Group calls for investigation of raises to ex-campaign staffers

Posted August 21, 2013

— A liberal advocacy group on Wednesday called on lawmakers to investigate hefty raises given to former campaign staffers of Gov. Pat McCrory who now work for the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Progress North Carolina also presented petitions signed by more than 19,000 people to DHHS, demanding that the raises be rescinded until North Carolina public school teachers also get raises.

"Pat McCrory bashes Medicaid every chance he can to explain why he didn't give raises to teachers. The very agency that is managing Medicaid is doling out hundreds of raises. This is crazy – complete hypocrisy," said Gerrick Brenner, executive director of Progress NC.

WRAL News found 280 full-time workers at DHHS who have received raises totaling $1.7 million since the governor's directive. Also, some of those receiving raises have no career or educational experience for the jobs they hold. The information on state salaries comes from BEACON, the state government payroll system.

Two former members of McCrory's 2012 gubernatorial campaign staff now work at DHHS, as does a former staffer of Republican Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign.

Petitions to DHHS over hefty raises Thousands sign petitions blasting DHHS raises

Matthew McKillip and Jason Simmons were hired as senior policy advisers, although neither appears to have any experience in health policy. They each received a raise of $22,500 in April. Agency spokesman Ricky Diaz got a $23,000 raise.

DHHS officials have refused to provide job descriptions for McKillip and Simmons and have declined to speak to the qualifications of any of the three with regard to the jobs they hold, saying only that all three are capably handling their duties and that the raises account for a tiny fraction of the agency's budget.

“Our goal is to reduce costs, drive efficiency and improve services, and I am very pleased that the department’s payroll is $21 million less than it was just one year ago,” DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos said in a statement Wednesday.

McCrory also has defended the raises.

Progress NC said the General Assembly should look into the raises, which came after McCrory asked agencies to limit spending so available state funding could be used to handle Medicaid cost overruns. The group said lawmakers should review the hiring process for exempt positions in state government and how many raises exempt employees received in recent months.

"Huge pay raises for campaign staffers don't pass the smell test. Something stinks in the McCrory administration, and the N.C. General Assembly should exercise its oversight role,"Brenner said in a statement.


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  • racoats3 Aug 22, 2013

    The same things happened under the democrats. I didn't like it then and I don't like it now. I thought McCrory was better than that. What happened to fair and equitable treatment of all? State government is full of "who you know" rather than "what you know" individuals in a lot of those higher paid positions from the Weasley and Perdue era. I get sick of hearing that is just the way government is. It should not be that way and I thought McCrory would be the one to set the example. What happened to you Pat McC? I hope you do the right thing and bring back ethics in personnel matters.

  • SARCASTICLES Aug 22, 2013

    What happened to "The state is broke"?

    Hypocrite, thy name is republican.

  • rokmsokm99 Aug 22, 2013

    Of course this looks fishy. I doubt those folks are worth these fat raises. At the same time though, did Progress NC make this kind of noise when Mary Easley got her sweetheart deal at NCSU? Seems to be something that happens with the associates of those in power.

  • healls Aug 22, 2013

    "Teachers need to get over it. There are too many educators and too little educating going on in our state. Why should teachers get a raise when they are failing our students?"--BubbaDukeforPresident

    I'm not sure where your children are being educated, but I have not seen this issue with bad teachers. Are there a few that don't perform? Certainly. Those people are in every profession. But the vast majority of my children's teachers have been caring, professional, dedicated and effective, particularly given the difficult circumstances they work in each day and the lack of support they often receive. Let's stop devaluing our teachers!

    Also, teachers aren't the only state employees who haven't had raises. It's sad to me that there is such negativity and false information being spouted about teachers and state employees. Most work hard and are dedicated to serving the citizens in a top-notch way, again without a lot of support or the proper tools and equipment to do their job.

  • hmmmmm Aug 22, 2013

    Take away the raises, they are undeserved...or make McCrory pay for those raises out of his own salary.

  • bill15 Aug 22, 2013

    "This is nothing new. Every politician surrounds themselves with people who helped them get elected." BubbaDukeforPresident

    Of course they do and it's always wrong when they reward their cronies by giving them plum jobs that they don't qualify for. And even worse when they are hypocritical and institute a "freeze on pay" for all other state employees but reward some 24-yr olds that would be making $35k per year, or less, in the private market.

  • oldaltar Aug 22, 2013

    Now we see why he did not want to show us his tax returns. If he had he would have never been elected.

  • BubbaDukeforPresident Aug 22, 2013

    This is nothing new. Every politician surrounds themselves with people who helped them get elected. There are posted salaries for these positions. Does the government spent too much? Absolutely, but just because it's a Republican governor, people are suddenly concerned that a few of his supporters got raises for doing jobs that had nothing to do with departments who had lost jobs. Teachers need to get over it. There are too many educators and too little educating going on in our state. Why should teachers get a raise when they are failing our students? The unions fight to keep bad teachers, so until the teachers are willing to police their own ranks, let them deal with the low pay. All government workers work for the tax-payers - you're only worth what we can afford to pay, and the less money we have left after the government robs us, the less money there is to waste on more bureaucracy.

  • GOPtakersSociety Aug 22, 2013

    Y'all (the liberals) talk as if only those three got raises. Listen up! 280 people got raises at DHHS!

    question would be why? this whole department is a complete mess
    and dropping a 24 yr old in there in charge of policy is nothing short of crazy, I thought McCrory was a Business leader, by these decisions he surely is not acting like one

  • GOPtakersSociety Aug 22, 2013

    The 2 jobs we know McCrory created is more than what Obama has created in 5 years!!


    But the Government doesn't create jobs, isn't that line one of your GOP handbook? the Job creators do.... that's why your party keeps giving the "Job Creators" all these enormous tax gifts in hopes that a few jobs trickle down our way...