The South Carolina Democratic Party is criticizing Gov. Nikki Haley for replacing the only black member of The Citadel’s Board of Visitors with a white campaign donor.
Haley last week replaced Columbia businessman James McQuilla with her new appointee on the military college’s board, Greenville businessman Greg Lapointe.
Lapointe is another in a string of controversial appointments to the state’s college and university boards that Haley has made in recent years as current board terms expire. In 2011, she replaced Dr. Paula Orr, the only black member of the Medical University of South Carolina’s board, with white campaign donor Harold Jablon, a Columbia-based dentist. Earlier that year, the governor drew criticism nationally when she removed philanthropist Darla Moore from the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees and replaced her with Lexington lawyer Tommy Cofield, another campaign contributor.
State Rep. David Mack, D-North Charleston, said Monday that he was concerned about Haley removing McQuilla from the board. He called it “a bad move in terms of diversity.”
Haley spokesman Doug Mayer said the governor makes appointments based on merit and the particular needs of the institution.
McQuilla has done great work at The Citadel, Mayer said, and the governor is going to appoint him to serve on the state’s Commission on Higher Education.
Haley is confident that Lapointe will bring a strong business background and Upstate perspective to the board, Mayer said.
The Citadel’s board has 11 members. Seven are elected by the General Assembly, three by the school’s alumni and one is appointed by the governor. Now, the board is comprised of 10 white men and one white woman.
Mack acknowledged that none of the Citadel board members elected by the General Assembly are black, and that’s a problem, he said. But Haley removed a competent black board member, he said. “She pulled someone off that was already there,” he said.
Rep. Seth Whipper, D-North Charleston, said Haley’s choices for college and university boards represent pay-to-play politics.
“The Supreme Court says diversity in higher education is a good thing. I’m concerned there is no sensitivity to this issue.”
Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.
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