Gov. Nikki Haley has appointed a longtime top legal advisor to be her new chief of staff.
Swati Patel has acted as the governor’s chief general counsel for Haley’s entire administration. Her predecessor James Burns plans to return to his old employer Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough after just 10 months on the job. The Governor’s Office did not give any further reason for his departure.
Patel, 44, has been a fixture in the Statehouse over the past decade. Prior to joining Haley’s incoming team, she previously worked as a legal counsel for Gov. Mark Sanford and was an attorney on the House Judiciary Committee and House Ethics Committee. She is originally from Anderson.
“I can’t think of anyone who is more widely respected or uniquely qualified to lead our team than Swati Patel,” Haley said in a statement. “Swati’s steady leadership as legal counsel has strengthened our staff, guided our administration, and helped us deliver results to the people of South Carolina – and, as Chief of Staff, Swati will keep that momentum going.”
Former Department of Labor, License, and Regulation (LLR) director Holly Pisarik will replace Patel as Chief Legal Counsel. Pisarik has spent the past eight months as a special assistant to new Department of Social Services Director Susan Alford.