ELEANOR KITZMAN UNLIKELY TO BE CONFIRMED AS NEW HEALTH, ENVIRONMENTAL CZARINA
|| By FITSNEWS || S.C. governor Nikki Haley‘s choice to lead the largest agency in state government is unlikely to be confirmed after several state Senators told FITS she lied on multiple questions posed to her.
Eleanor Kitzman – whose nomination to lead the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) was already in trouble – hasn’t received much in the way of support from Haley, but her embattled confirmation process appeared to be trending toward a narrow win in the State Senate.
Until this week …
Senators familiar with the situation tell FITS Kitzman lied about a bad check charge, about her professional standing as an attorney and about political contributions made to Haley, one of her closest confidantes.
One Senator told FITS Kitzman lied to them on “at least ten instances.”
Kitzman flatly disputed the allegation that she lied about making improper political contributions, telling Senators she was appointed by the SCDHEC board – not by her longtime “bestie.” However Senators produced a letter from Haley in which the governor explicitly made it clear she (Haley) was appointing Kitzman pending confirmation by the State Senate.
Sources close to Kitzman also told FITS the truth about her professional standing was being “misrepresented.” They accused one State Senator – Joel Lourie – of orchestrating a smear campaign in an effort to discredit the governor. In fact they say Lourie leaked information about Kitzman’s untruthful answers to “reporter” Sammy Fretwell at The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper.
Haley’s selection of Kitzman came in the aftermath of former director Catherine Templeton‘s decision to step down from the agency – ostensibly to pursue a campaign against former S.C. governor Mark Sanford in the state’s first congressional district (or to run for governor herself in 2018).
Templeton, who received praise for reforming the troubled bureaucracy, reportedly had a qualified candidate lined up to take her place at the agency – but Haley’s administration chose to go in a different direction. Hmmmm … how hard are they regretting that decision right about now, we wonder?
As regular watchers of The West Wing, we know failed confirmations are “body blows” for an administration. But this would be especially true in Haley’s administration, which has already lost five top appointments due to scandal (Lillian Koller at the S.C. Department of Social Services, Abraham Turner at the S.C. Department of Workforce, Jim Etter at the S.C. Department of Revenue, Robert St. Onge of the S.C. Department of Transportation and Kela Thomas of the S.C. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services).
All of which makes the decision to nominate Kitzman in the first place so baffling …
Kitzman lost her job as Texas’ insurance commissioner in 2013 after it became clear the State Senate there was not going to confirm her nomination. Why not? For starters, Kitzman was accused of deliberately withholding information regarding the profit margins of insurance companies in the Lone Star State (after permitting these companies to impose double-digit rate hikes on consumers).
Kitzman’s Texas issues have followed her to South Carolina – where she already had her share of problems. At the heart of those issues? Kitzman’s ongoing proximity to Haley’s personal life – including details of the governor’s past that continue to linger just below the surface of her national ambitions.
Specifically, Kitzman is one of a handful of people in whom Haley confided following the latter’s sexual affair with FITS founding editor Will Folks – which drew to a close in mid-2007. In fact, Kitzman was present at the Liberty Taproom in early February 2007 on the night Folks and Haley began their relationship.