Nikki Haley faces backlash at Goldman after Confederate flag comments

Then-U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., in October 2018. (Washington Post photo by Calla Kessler)

Goldman Sachs employees are complaining to executives over a scheduled appearance Wednesday by Nikki Haley at the firm’s New York offices following the former South Carolina governor’s recent comments on the Confederate flag.

Several employees, including members of the firm’s Black Network, have reached out to Goldman President John Waldron, among other senior managers, asking that the engagement be called off. Waldron is slated to interview Haley as part of the “Talks at GS” series in which Goldman executives interview prominent public personalities.

Haley, who served as President Donald Trump’s U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has faced criticism since telling conservative radio host Glenn Beck last week that the Confederate flag has long represented “service, sacrifice and heritage” for some people in her state. She said the symbol was hijacked by Dylann Roof, a white supremacist who opened fire in a predominantly black church in 2015, killing nine people.

Goldman executives fielding the complaints have responded with assurances to employees that they intend to ask challenging questions.

“We are committed to using the Talks at GS platform to directly explore the views of our guests, particularly on difficult topics,” the company wrote in an email to employees who raised the issue. “John Waldron will ask Ambassador Haley to address her recent comments on the Confederate flag and will share the sentiments of you and others in our community.”

A spokeswoman for Goldman confirmed the contents of the message. The “Talks at GS” series are unpaid appearances.

Haley, 47, has been the subject of media speculation about her own presidential ambitions. She’s known to be close to former Trump adviser and now Goldman investment banker Dina Powell, who was reported to be among nominees considered by Trump to replace Haley at the U.N.

The former governor has been on a speaking tour recently after the release of her book “With All Due Respect,” including a talk at a Wells Fargo & Co. client event in New York last week before the backlash.



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