Haley completes cabinet; diversity questioned

January 27, 2011 

Gov. Nikki Haley today nominated Duane Parrish, president of Charleston's Premier Hospitality Group, to lead the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.

Parrish’s first priority, Haley said, would be to find a corporate sponsor for the Heritage golf tournament, a PGA Tour event held annually in Hilton Head, as opposed to seeking local or state money to support the event.

Parrish's appointment rounds out Haley's cabinet appointments.

But those appointments also have raised the ire of members of the Legislative Black Caucus. About a dozen caucus members met behind closed doors today with Haley to express concerns about the lack of racial diversity in her cabinet appointments.

"The only African-American is for (the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services) and she (Haley) wants to merge that agency with another," said state Rep. Leon Howard, D-Richland and a member of the Black Caucus.

Howard said his concerns go beyond Haley's cabinet appointments. "I went back (into the governor's office today) and all I did was shake white people's hands. That's offensive," he said.

Haley said her meeting with the Black Caucus was productive, adding she asked its members to bring qualified candidates to her attention as she appoints members to boards and commissions. "It's an issue that I share, and we had a great dialogue on it and we look forward to working on it," she said.

– Gina Smith

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