SC Hospitality lobby group has new leader and name

The lobbying organization representing South Carolina's hospitality industry has a new leader and a new name.

The board of directors of the former South Carolina Hospitality Association announced Thursday that John Durst will be president and CEO of the newly-named South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Durst was a director of the state department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism during the administration of former Governor Jim Hodges.

At a press conference in Columbia, Durst was introduced by the association's new board chairman, David McMillan, owner of Drunken Jack's restaurant in Murrells Inlet.

"I will work tirelessly to expand our membership," Durst told association members Thursday.

The hospitality organization is recovering from the suicide of its former executive director Tom Sponseller and the discovery that an employee, Rachel Duncan, had embezzled nearly $400,000 from the group's coffers earlier this year.

Duncan pleaded guilty in April to tax evasion and wire fraud.