Husband, McMaster on Haley transition team

By Jack Kuenzie - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - South Carolina Gov.-elect Nikki Haley's her husband and one of her former GOP opponents are among 14 executive committee members of her transition team.

Haley announced Friday that Michael Haley and Attorney General Henry McMaster join public and private sector leaders on the team to help her take over from Gov. Mark Sanford in January.

"I need true working leaders to carry this transition," Haley said about the 14 members of an executive committee that will help Haley search for and sort candidates for top jobs in state government including her cabinet.

Former U.S. ambassador David Wilkins is running Haley's transition team. Tim Pearson, who ran her come-from-behind campaign, is the transition's executive director. Sticky Fingers co-founder and former Sanford aide Chad Walldorf is the committee's vice chairman.

"I want people to head these agencies that know what it's like to be on the other side of the red tape," continued Haley. "That understand that time is money. If you are causing a business to spend time, they are spending money. If you are not helping a constituent in a way that they are not getting what they need, we are costing them money."

The group is heavy on business types. Six of the 14 have prominent positions in the private sector, possibly a reflection of Haley's vow to concentrate on job creation.

Does that mean the committee will focus first on finding a new commerce chief? "It's certainly very very important but I think all of the cabinet agencies are crucially important in these difficult budget times," said committee co-chair Chad Walldorf. "You can make an argument for any of the agencies and crucially important they are."

Wilkins and McMaster might be considered old guard political insiders -- a target for Haley during the campaign. "That criticism is unfounded," defended McMaster. "Because as Governor-elect Haley has made clear, she's looking for the very best talent to help the state of South Carolina accomplish the vision that she has set."

Haley's husband has few connections with the political establishment or big business, but he does understand what the governor-elect wants.

"The Governor-elect has assembled an impressive team of leaders with the depth and breadth of experience it'll take to make the transition successful," said Transition Chairman Ambassador Wilkins.

Transition Vice-Chairman Walldorf added, "I am excited and honored to be working with this great group of individuals over these next few months to assist Governor-elect Haley in putting together an administration that will reflect her reform-minded vision for our state."

Other members of the committee include Derick Close, CEO of Springs Creative Products Group in Rock Hill, Furman University Trustee Dave Ellison, Jermaine Husser, Executive Director of the Lowcountry Food Bank, Jennie M. Johnson, Executive Director of Liberty Fellowship, Pamela P. Lackey, President of AT&T South Carolina, Don Leonard, President of Leonard, Call & Associates, Inc., former attorney general candidate Leighton Lord, developer Pat McKinney, Claflin University president, Dr. Henry N. Tisdale, and George Wolfe, a partner in the Columbia office of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP.

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Copyright 2010 WIS. All rights reserved. AP contributed to this report.