Gov. Mike Beebe will be announcing a change in leadership Wednesday at the Arkansas Department of Economic Development, or so reliable sources tell us.
The new leader, according to our sources: Maria Haley, who'd be a familiar name to folks from the Clinton-Tucker years. Bill Clinton appointed his former aide to the Export-Import Bank after he became president. An ambassador's daughter who was born in the Philippines, Haley figured in Clinton controversies because she had arranged contacts with foreign businessmen whose financial support was the subject of long-running investigations. More recently, she has been senior director of Kissinger McLarty Associates, the D.C. firm headed by Henry Kissinger and former Clinton White House chief Mack McLarty.
A new director would step into DED, currently headed by Larry Walther, at a time when it is near siting decisions by some major industrial prospects, including a German steelmaker and Toyota.
We sought comment from the governor's office. A spokesman confirms that Beebe has informed Walther that he will not be retained as DED director, but otherwise the office would stick to its policy of not disclosing appointees until they are formally announced.
Walther later distributed this statement:
“Inevitably in public service the time arrives to pass the baton to the next trusted public servants. I do so with great hope for the success of Governor Beebe’s administration and the state I love so much. The staff of the Arkansas Department of Economic Development has been a constant source of inspiration to me, and I am confident this professional organization will serve the next director well. It has been a true privilege to serve my state, and I will cherish these wonderful experiences as I seek my next professional challenge.”