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@NCCapitol

Controversial DHHS spokesman lands DC PR job

Posted January 8

Ricky Diaz

— Ricky Diaz, whose leap from campaign aide to a highly paid state government job became a lightning rod for Gov. Pat McCrory's administration last year, is leaving North Carolina for a position with a political relations firm in Washington, D.C.

Diaz plans to leave as communications director for the state Department of Health and Human Services on Jan. 24 to become vice president of FP1 Strategies LLC, a public affairs, advertising, grassroots and media relations firm headed by Republican operatives.

"Ricky has an impressive background and a track record of success," FP1 partner Terry Nelson, who worked on President George W. Bush's 2004 campaign and Sen. John McCain's presidential bid in 2008, said in a statement. "His hands-on experience developing messages for statewide campaigns and government will help our clients effectively drive the debate and win the tough fights."

Diaz served as press secretary for McCrory's 2012 gubernatorial campaign and then joined McCrory's transition team as deputy communications director as the former Charlotte mayor assembled his administration.

Within months of McCrory taking office, Diaz had become the top spokesman at DHHS, the largest state agency, and received a $23,000 raise, despite a directive from McCrory that agencies freeze pay so the state could pay off cost overruns in the Medicaid program. Diaz's $85,000 annual salary and dearth of experience in either health policy or communications became a target of liberal groups that said McCrory rewarded cronies instead of hiring competent managers.

DHHS also was beset by a string of problems last year, from other questionable hires to technical problems with its Medicaid billing and food stamps enrollment systems to last week's revelation that nearly 49,000 Medicaid cards were sent to the wrong people. Each crisis put Diaz front and center to try to explain what went wrong and why and to defend DHHS management.

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  • heelzfan4 Jan 9, 3:33 p.m.

    "ALECarolina Jan 9, 10:16 a.m.
    I hope the liberal media is satisfied! This fine young man landed a great job in the McCrory administration to fix the damage left by 100 years of wasteful spending by the democrats, and all he got in return was a miserable 85K salary!

    The taxpayers just lost a bargain, how will McCrory ever manage to replace such experience at such a bargain again? Do the liberal democrats think NC is MADE of taxpayer money?"

    ALECarolina..... I certainly hope you are joking! I have nothing personally against this young man, but he had absolutely NO experience for this position, and THAT makes his $85k salary TOO HIGH! But, politics will continue to be just that...politics!

  • Bogie Jan 9, 2:55 p.m.

    In May Secretary Wos said: “In reference to your roundabout way of commenting about Medicaid expansion … in North Carolina, based on our constitution, the issue of Medicaid expansion or not, actually, was the commissioner of insurance’s,” Wos said. “Just so that you all know that and are aware of that.”
    Then Ricky Diaz explained that Wos’ comments were taken out of context. He further said, “The Secretary was talking broadly about the Insurance Commissioner’s oversight authority over the health care insurance industry in North Carolina.”
    Really? What a spin doctor!

  • GOPtakersSociety Jan 9, 1:44 p.m.

    If Tillis or any of these folks are hoping Ricky can pave the way in 2014 or beyond with his influence at some Communications gig in DC.....better rethink that. "Ricky will get back to you on that"...

  • Atheistinafoxhole Jan 9, 1:31 p.m.

    Okay, let's be honest here, this is how politics works, no matter what side is in charge. Stop... View More

    — Posted by JEIAKC

    It is important to point out when those who campaign on the theme they will be different but turn out to be the same or worse. Would McCrory have been elected if he had just said, "I'll be just like Bev Purdue?"

    I agree, there is malfeasance in all political parties, but this is not only costly - it is also insulting to the people of NC that they don't even try to hide their unadulterated avarice.

  • JEIAKC Jan 9, 12:15 p.m.

    Okay, let's be honest here, this is how politics works, no matter what side is in charge. Stop making it a democrat or republican issue, make it a politics issue. Don't like it, hold all of them accountable!

  • SaveEnergyMan Jan 9, 11:54 a.m.

    Wonder what qualifications his replacement will have and what their salary will be. WRAL, please keep us informed!

  • crkeehn Jan 9, 10:45 a.m.

    $85000 is not a 'HIGH' paid amount... All these WRAL articles seem to be written with the... View More

    — Posted by WhoMe44a

    Based on North Carolina State Civil Service pay scales, yes it is a very high salary, far higher than the position and experience would warrant.

  • NC_interest Jan 9, 10:29 a.m.

    $85000 is not a 'HIGH' paid amount... All these WRAL articles seem to be written with the... View More

    — Posted by WhoMe44a

    Really?

    Compared to what? And at what qualifications?

    I have talked with amway sales folks more qualified than this kid.

  • GOPtakersSociety Jan 9, 10:18 a.m.

    WhoMe44a Jan 9, 9:14 a.m.


    $85000 is not a 'HIGH' paid amount... All these WRAL articles seem to be written with the intention of pitting those that have against the have-nots. It is getting really old!
    Hmmmm, seems that would be considerably high for someone with NO EXPEIRENCE!

  • ALECarolina Jan 9, 10:16 a.m.

    I hope the liberal media is satisfied! This fine young man landed a great job in the McCrory administration to fix the damage left by 100 years of wasteful spending by the democrats, and all he got in return was a miserable 85K salary!

    The taxpayers just lost a bargain, how will McCrory ever manage to replace such experience at such a bargain again? Do the liberal democrats think NC is MADE of taxpayer money?

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