COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Gov. Nikki Haley on Thursday named a New York City labor lawyer who worked previously for President George W. Bush as the new leader of South Carolina's unemployment agency.
Cheryl Stanton, 42, would become the Department of Employment and Workforce's first female director. The Senate must confirm Haley's choice.
Haley said Stanton's work experiences in both the private and public sector make her uniquely qualified to lead the embattled agency.
"She knows what businesses need," Haley said. "We need to make sure the agency stays very business friendly," while providing benefits to people who should receive them and rejecting the claims of those who shouldn't.
Haley's announcement comes nearly two months after former director, retired Maj. Gen. Abraham Turner, resigned.
Turner handed in his resignation Feb. 15 amid a backlash from legislators over the agency's plans to cut in-person services for unemployment claims at 17 rural offices.
The agency has since announced a statewide reorganization that directs anyone seeking jobless benefits to use its upgraded online system. One-on-one help with unemployment claims will be eliminated statewide June 10. The Cabinet agency has become a target of both parties.
John Finan has been filling in as director on his second interim term.
Haley chose from three finalists picked by a legislative panel.
Stanton has worked in the employment and labor law firm Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart since 2002. She temporarily left the firm to work as an associate lawyer in the Bush White House from 2006 to 2008. After graduating from the University of Chicago law school in 1997, she worked two years for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, when he was a judge on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.
Stanton said she's eager to return to South Carolina. Her father was stationed in Charleston with the Navy when she was a child. She said her family later returned on vacations, and her parents have retired to the state.