Gov. Nikki Haley replaces Darla Moore, names campaign donor to USC board
COLUMBIA -- Gov. Nikki Haley seated a campaign contributor to the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees to replace Darla Moore, the namesake of the flagship university's School of Business.
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Haley tapped Lexington lawyer Tommy Cofield to replace Moore, who has donated $70 million to the university. She has served on the board for more than a decade.
Cofield and his sister Amy Cofield donated a combined $9,000 to Haley's gubernatorial campaign, according to the State Ethics Commission.
The reason for the replacement, according to the governor's office, is Haley wanted a "fresh set of eyes" on the USC board.
"As is the case with many of our appointees, the governor looked for a fresh set of eyes to put in a critical leadership position -- a governor's appointee to the USC board," Rob Godfrey, Haley press secretary, said in a statement Tuesday. "We have a great deal of respect for Ms. Moore and everything she has done for the university and our state, and we look forward to her future service."
Godfrey didn't respond to a question about whether Cofield's appointment was related to his campaign contributions.
James Fields, executive director of Moore's Palmetto Institute, told The Post and Courier Wednesday morning that Moore has chosen not to comment on the situation at this time.
Moore also has written checks to South Carolina candidates. She gave $2,000 to Democrat Jim Rex's campaign for governor in 2010. Rex lost the primary to Haley's general election challenger state Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden. Among other candidates, Moore donated $1,000 to now-Lt. Gov. Ken Ard, a Republican.
Attempts to reach Cofield and Moore late Tuesday were unsuccessful.
Miles Loadholt, chairman of the board, said Moore's contributions to the university have been priceless.
"The importance of Darla Moore's philanthropy cannot be overestimated," he said in a statement. "Her constant push for excellence not only at a state level, but in a global context, will be a standing legacy and among her many contributions to the university."
Margaret Lamb, spokeswoman for USC, couldn't confirm late Tuesday the day Cofield's appointment was made but that it is in effect. Moore served on the board since 1999, when she was appointed by Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges.
USC's school of business was named for Moore in 1998 after her then-record setting $25 million donation. Moore gave another $45 million in April 2004, a gift so large it was one of the biggest anywhere in the country that year, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. In 2002, Moore gave Clemson University $10 million in honor of her father.
Moore, who grew up in Lake City, earned a bachelor's degree from USC in 1975.
Cofield, a Columbia native who grew up in Greenville, also is a USC graduate. He earned a law degree and a bachelor's of arts from the institution.
Cofield and his sister opened their law firm in 2002.