Amid the mounting criticism and scandals surrounding his Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos, Governor Pat McCrory met briefly with reporters this week and said basically three things.
He fully supports the embattled Wos, he doesn’t appreciate the media looking into the qualifications and the background of the people she is hiring and paying big salaries with taxpayer money, and he wants to make sure that people know she is working for $1 a year.
That was it.
No promise to look into how a colleague of Wos’ husband—who is a prominent donor to McCrory’s campaign—managed to get paid $228,000 for eight months of work on a personal services contract. No concern that Wos recently hired a co-founder of a local tea party group and anti-abortion activist who hadn’t worked in health care for more than ten years to help guide the administration’s effort to privatize Medicaid.
And no concern that Wos still hasn’t explained why she blamed State Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin for the decision not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act when it was the General Assembly and McCrory himself who made the call.
McCrory also didn’t say anything about the massive raises given to two 24-year-old former campaign workers now in senior positions at HHS. One is the chief policy adviser at the department despite no experience or educational background in health care policy.
He previously defended those eyebrow-raising hires and raises by saying that they were the most qualified applicants, despite offering no evidence that anyone else even applied for the jobs.
McCrory’s complaints about the media checking the background of the people Wos is hiring is especially bizarre.
Several media outlets reported that HHS officials have refused to release job descriptions or resumes of folks that Wos has hired in key positions in a department that literally affects the lives of millions of people.
McCrory apparently believes that it’s none of our business who his administration is hiring with our money to make policy that affects our lives.
That brings us to Dr. Wos.
Media outlets have reported many times that Wos has refused requests for interviews to talk about her hires or her puzzling statements. She still has never explained how she came to hire a woman in February to head the early childhood development division who didn’t believe in publicly funded early childhood programs, not to mention her homophobic slurs against Hillary Clinton on Twitter. She resigned her position when her background came to light.
Wos didn’t attend Wednesday’s meeting of the Education Cabinet—of which she is a member. When she does speak in public, she rarely answers questions and on at least two occasions reporters have described being blocked from talking to her by bodyguards.
HHS officials won’t release any details of who the bodyguards work for or how they are being paid.
It’s clear from his comments this week that Governor McCrory feels no obligation to actually address the mess at HHS any further. The least he could do would be to instruct Secretary Wos to emerge from behind her bodyguards and entertain a few questions for herself.
Even if she only makes $1 a year, she works for the people of North Carolina after all. And they deserve some answers.