Here’s a news flash for all you Democrats out there: Nikki Haley does not care what you think.
The South Carolina Democratic Party blew a gasket this week when Gov. Haley replaced the only black member of The Citadel’s Board of Visitors with a white guy.
A white guy who also just happens to be a Haley campaign contributor.
Local lawmakers David Mack and Seth Whipper decried the pay-to-play politics of it all, as well as the first minority governor’s lack of commitment to, well, diversity.
They have a good point, of course, but they shouldn’t be surprised.
Haley is just being Haley.
And unless Fox News offers her a gig hosting a TV show (unlikely) or the next president gives her a job (even more unlikely), she’s probably going to be doing the exact same thing for the next five years.
So you might as well get used to it.
Honestly, all politicians appoint their friends, relatives and campaign donors to positions of moderate power.
Especially campaign donors.
“They reward their electoral base when they get into office,” says Dave Woodard, a Clemson University political scientist. “That’s why people keep supporting them — hoping they get some appointment.”
And Haley, Woodard says, “wants to reward people who are loyal to her.”
It’s just part of the good ol’ boy system. And even though Haley condemns politics as usual, she is very much just another good ol’ boy.
As she has shown time and again.
Early in her term, she replaced the only black member of MUSC’s board with a white guy. And she inexplicably booted millionaire businesswoman Darla Moore — one of the smartest people in the state — from the University of South Carolina board. Moore was one of only two women on the board. But she had to go because, Haley said, she wanted some “fresh eyes.”
Those fresh eyes belonged to a white guy. Who just happened to be a campaign donor.
“I find it hard to believe that the best and most-qualified appointees for The Citadel and other boards around the state just happen to all be part of Nikki Haley’s campaign donor base,” Whipper says.
The governor obviously feels differently. Her office says Haley is not beholden to quotas, that she makes appointments based on merit. And she evidently thinks that folks who donate to her campaign have something to contribute.
In addition to cash, of course.
Ultimately, Haley can appoint whoever she wants to all the state’s boards and commissions.
That’s one of the few perks of the job as South Carolina governor, and she has made the most of it.
Months after she took office, Haley replaced most of the ETV board, kicking off veterans in favor of some people with little knowledge of public television. But that actually makes sense, because Haley just wants to shut it down anyway.
And she cleaned house on the Department and Health and Environmental Control board too. Her appointees subsequently shelved a DHEC report that talked about the effects of climate change in the state. And why wouldn’t they? We don’t believe in that science mumbo jumbo here.
As Woodard notes, the Democrats can kick and scream all they like, but Haley is going to be re-elected. Early polls show that she is nearly a lock — 47 percent of Republicans say they will re-elect her regardless of who else runs. That’s the power of incumbency, and Haley is feeling it.
If the Dems keep grousing, Haley may deign to engage them — and mention that she appointed Tim Scott to the U.S. Senate, making him the first black senator from South Carolina since at least Reconstruction.
And she would be within her rights to point that out.
Scott is a perfect example of Haley’s appointment philosophy. She most likely would happily appoint more blacks to boards and commissions — if she could find any, like Scott, who shared her particular political views.
Or donated to her campaign.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tune in to his live chat today at noon on www.postandcourier.com