Note: Starting today, all of the Patch sites in South Carolina will be publishing commentary from Palladian View, a website published by former South Carolina GOP Chair Karen Floyd. While topics will occasionally be national in scope, we believe they will be of particular interest to residents of our Patch sites.
Catherine Templeton, currently South Carolina’s Director of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (LLR), is a dangerous woman.
Really sneaky dangerous.
Sneaky because to look at her credentials, she appears to be a smart, principled, accomplished attorney with a solid record of public service and conservative ideals.
Ah HA! There it is! “Conservative woman.”
The entrenched powers in South Carolina (i.e. the brotherhood of male politicians, “consultants” and self-appointed pundits), are either intimidated by or ignorant of conservative women in positions of authority. Of course, this is neither new nor unique to South Carolina.
Last month, Catherine Templeton was unanimously nominated by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) Board of Directors to head the agency. According to The State newspaper Templeton “applied after the board, dissatisfied with early candidates, reopened the application process in mid-November, records show.” Suddenly, there is “controversy.”
Two state senators are asking why the nominee to head South Carolina's environmental agency doesn't plan to work full-time from an office at the department's Columbia headquarters.
Democratic Sens. Joel Lourie and Brad Hutto wrote the agency's board chairman, Allen Amsler, on Monday, asking whether the board is comfortable with Catherine Templeton working from the Department of Health and Environmental Control's office in North Charleston. She lives in nearby Mount Pleasant.
"We intend to make that a very big issue'' at Templeton's confirmation hearing, said Lourie, a Columbia lawmaker.”It could be somewhat of a disqualifier.''
Both are skeptical of Republican Gov. Nikki Haley's choice of Templeton to lead DHEC, in part because of her limited background in state environmental and health regulation.
When appointed last year by newly-elected South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (conservative woman) to serve as LLR Director, Ms. Templeton was unanimously confirmed by the Senate. On the same day, by the same vote, Robert “Bobby” Hitt was also unanimously confirmed as South Carolina Secretary of Commerce. “Unanimous” means that both Senators Lourie and Hutto voted to confirm.
Curiously, during the hearing for confirmation as the head of LLR, Sen. Lourie said to Ms. Templeton "I forgot to ask Bobby Hitt this question last week in his hearing, but where do you plan to live?"
Oh, gee. Forgot to ask?
The Senator also forgot to ask that question of Chad Prosser who, for eight years was Director of South Carolina’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism (PRT) yet commuted from his home in Myrtle Beach, which is half again as far from Columbia than is Charleston.
These aren’t the only state officials now or in the past to live somewhere other than Columbia, so why is it suddenly an issue? Why does it even matter?
Logistically, today’s technologies allow for collaboration, conferencing and management across distances far greater than that between Charleston and Columbia. Physical presence is no longer a requirement. There are United States cabinet secretaries who live physically closer to Washington, but whose commute times are just as long due to traffic.
Office mates email each other when sitting six feet away and get computer support from technicians on the other side of the planet.
“Disqualifier?” Only to the technologically Neanderthal, maybe.
It seems, however, that to “qualify” as a state official, one must actually live in Columbia, with other factors, such as experience and professional credentials, being secondary. Senators Lourie and Hutto apparently would prefer second-stringers as long as they live close to the State House.
Government needs the best minds it can recruit to run the affairs of state. Despite the partisan protestations of two Democrat state senators, Ms. Templeton’s qualifications are ideal for a large agency like DHEC.
If the Lourie/Hutto qualification criteria are to be followed, how does the state tap the talents of people like Catherine Templeton who happen to live elsewhere? As much as some like to bellow about how much these agency heads are paid, it’s nowhere near enough to permit them to upend families to relocate. There is no state-provided residence for the Director of DHEC as there is for the Governor.
“Disqualifier?” These are excuses to deny a competent and accomplished conservative woman a position of authority in state government. And, by extension, it’s part of a continued campaign to disparage a conservative woman governor.
Because The Palladian View is an outlet that advocates for the ascendancy of conservative women, we expect our defense of Catherine Templeton to be trivialized as gender motivated. That would be not only an inaccurate assumption, but a dangerous one.
There’s that word again – dangerous.
Women have been the backbone of American politics for generations and whether they consider “conservative” as a political or personal philosophy, their representation at all levels of government significantly lags behind their numbers in the general voting population.
Catherine Templeton did not ask for our help. In fact, we have independently chosen to expose her experience as an example of the injustice and inequality conservative women face as they try to serve their communities and their country.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” To doubt the danger conservative women pose to the keepers of the status quo would be both ignorant and stupid.
The Palladian View will continue to champion women like Catherine Templeton and provide a means for conservative women to reach the prominence they deserve.
-Palladian View--Conservative Women See Their Voice