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McCrory administration mum on Lightfoot

Posted February 8, 2013

— Neither the Governor's Office nor the Department of Health and Human Services is responding to questions about the vetting of Dianna Lightfoot.

Meantime, questions about the former appointee continue to mount. 

On Tuesday, Lightfoot was announced as the new head of the Division of Childhood Development and Early Education. In the press release, which has now apparently been deleted from the DHHS website, her credentials appeared slim: "She holds a master’s degree in psychology and community relations, a counseling license and a secondary teaching credential."

Still, Secretary Aldona Wos described her in glowing terms: "Ms. Lightfoot is a strategic and tactical top tier policy executive with extensive health care, child welfare and education expertise,” Wos said in a statement. "Her leadership will ensure we meet the state’s longstanding commitment to protect and serve our young children.”

Lightfoot was to start work Feb. 11 at an annual salary of $110,000. 

But questions surfaced Wednesday about her decade of work as founder and president of the National Physician's Center for Family Resources, an organization that advocates against public early education programs, and about comments she posted on social media referring to fringe theories and using gay slurs.

Thursday, as more questions arose about her voting registration, which appears to be illegal, DHHS announced Lightfoot had decided not to accept the position after all.

Former director surprised

The director Lightfoot was to replace, Deb Cassidy, had been at DCDEE since 2009. She holds a Ph.D. in child development and has been on the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro since 1990.

Cassidy was fired in January, with five hours' notice to submit a report, pack her office and leave. She says Wos never met with her, canceling four scheduled meetings. She was dismissed by a letter delivered by human resources.

As a political appointee, she says, "I knew that this could happen, but I didn't think it would be done in such a disrespectful way."

Cassidy said she was surprised Wos would appoint a public pre-kindergarten chief who doesn't believe in public pre-kindergarten.

"All I could think of is, I guess [Wos] wants to dismantle what we've built here in North Carolina. I don't know what else it could be," she said.

Cassidy also said Lightfoot showed up unannounced at the Baptist Children's Home in Thomasville last week and introduced herself as the new division director, stopping by for a site visit. Staff at the facility wouldn't let her in because they were unable to verify her appointment. 

Cassidy said the staff even called her – "I was on the golf course," she said – to see if she knew who Lightfoot was. "It was very strange," she said. 

More questions

Lightfoot has so far declined to comment. Her mother told the Winston-Salem Journal on Friday that Lightfoot is "devastated" by the turn of events. 

According to the story, Lightfoot's mother says she has been living with her for the past few years and does not currently hold a paying job. Her nonprofit brought in less than $7,000 last year. 

Still, Lightfoot had money to contribute to political campaigns. According to State Board of Elections records, she made more than $1,100 in contributions last year: $755 to the Forsyth County Republican Party, $100 to Forsyth Republican Women and $250 to the McCrory campaign. 

McCrory's press office won't say whether the governor or his staff recommended Lightfoot for the job.

"We're referring all questions on this matter to the Department of Health and Human Services," said McCrory's press secretary Crystal Feldman.

DHHS has refused to respond to multiple calls and messages seeking an explanation.

13 Comments

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  • wral mods blow close my account Feb 11, 3:08 p.m.

    Heckava job there McCrory. Will Art be picking the next stooge too?

  • Unbroken Feb 11, 12:49 p.m.

    "Cassidy said the staff even called her – "I was on the golf course," she said – to see if she knew who Lightfoot was. "It was very strange," she said. Hahaha!! I guess she is taking lessons from our current King Obama.
    goncampn2"

    So now the game of golf is under attack from cons? Cassidy was relieved of her job by Pat. So now with her new found free time, she can't play a round of golf?

  • Unbroken Feb 11, 12:46 p.m.

    Cassidy is right. As a political appointee, one can be replaced quickly and without cause. However, for the good of the people that they serve, one would like to see a bit more of a smoother transition than apparently what happened here.

  • CrewMax Feb 11, 12:44 p.m.

    It' is infinitely more fun to watch you stand in the "middle of the road" , talking to yourself.

  • Mr. Middle of the Road Feb 11, 12:16 p.m.

    Really, is there anyone still out there who doesn't see how inept McCrory and his crew are? What about a little defense by the far righties on here? Can't you stand up for your man? All quiet on the far right front.

  • benhansen74 Feb 11, 11:58 a.m.

    Oh Wos is us!!!!

    Heaven help us all weather the next 4 years. It appears that there is a crack in the smoke screen emanating from the Artful Popery! C'mon Art, it's embarrassing for McCoker when you lead him astray like that; he doesn't have a clue what to do when you spoon feed him slop. Help the poor boy out here. (hee hee hee...)

  • corey3rd2 Feb 9, 5:57 p.m.

    Another voter registration fraud exposed.

    McCrory needs to admit why anyone thought Lightfoot was the perfect fit for the job seeing how that was his campaign promise from the floor of the abandoned slaughterhouse.

  • teleman60 Feb 9, 3:15 p.m.

    She's a teaparty looney tune but please let her speak for herself -- see her on youtube!

  • Captain_Vlad Feb 9, 1:00 p.m.

    This should be a shinning example of what is to come with the (Wos) reign of terror in the DHHS Dept. She has been sent to rule that realm with nothing but a political agenda hit list. To Hell with serving the purpose of the Dept. (Helping the citizens of NC) The woman and for the most part all of her chosen Directors have barricaded themselves in their holy temples and are simply finalizing the kill list of policies to overturn and loyal state employees to dispense with. We're hearing from solid sources, that the DMA Queen from Alabama is bringing in cronies from 'bama to completely gut that divisions leadership. If you're going to run a department you need to meet with your team not come in with your hair on fire trying to destroy the good that is there. Mr. McCrory this little embarrassment brought on you as a result of Queen Wos not properly checking into the background of an appointee will be just the beginning if you don't calm this zealous people down.

  • goncampn2 Feb 9, 10:05 a.m.

    Cassidy said the staff even called her – "I was on the golf course," she said – to see if she knew who Lightfoot was. "It was very strange," she said. Hahaha!! I guess she is taking lessons from our current King Obama.

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