Saturday, September 26, 2015

Feds Open Criminal Investigation of McCrory's DHHS

Aldona Wos, gone but not forgotten
You're excused if you don't remember that Aldona Wos, the serial bumbler at the head of the Department of Health and Human Services, resigned from her office last August 4 (Gov. McCrory actually shed a public tear over it), precisely one week after she received a Federal subpoena delving into possible criminal misappropriation of public funds and no-bid payouts to close personal and political friends.

Targets of the subpoenas, aside from Wos herself, who during her tenure handed out high-dollar no-bid contracts like the Easter Bunny bestowing chocolate eggs:

1. Les Merritt (there's that marvelously prophetic name again!), who had been the Republican state Auditor until he was defeated by current Auditor Beth Wood. He was hired by Wos via a no-bid contract as chief financial officer for the state’s mental health division. "During the first six months of the contract, in 2013, Merritt said he worked 200 hours and he was paid $52,000. That rate of $260 an hour made him the highest-paid hourly employee working on a personal services contract in state government that year. The contract paid Merritt $312,000 for a year, after which he left the department."

Merritt (!) was also appointed to the state Ethics Commission by Gov. McCrory and was enjoying his no-bid contract with DHHS at the same time that he was overseeing other people's ethics until WRAL questioned the potential conflict of interest. He promptly resigned from the Ethics Commission.

2. Thomas L. Adams, who was hired as Wos's "chief of staff" for an eye-blink -- one month -- after which he got his golden parachute ... "severance pay" of over $37,000.

3. Joe Hauck, "senior advisor" to Wos, whose main qualification appears to have been his close financial relationship with Wos's husband. Hauck got another of those no-bid contracts, worked a total of 11 months, and pocketed $310,000, which, according to the N&O, was "$50,000 more than the annual salary of the agency’s highest-paid doctor." It came out via AP reporting that Hauck had produced literally three whole pages of "work product" for that $300K.

4. Alvarez & Marsal, a D.C. "consulting firm," which was hired on a no-bid contract to manage the state's Medicaid finance office. Alvarez & Marsal has so far soaked the state for up to $9 million.

To their credit, members of the General Assembly with oversight responsibilities did grill Wos about this contract, making their skepticism about her management abilities crystal clear to everyone except our clueless governor.

5. Angeline Sligh, who was hired to manager the overhaul of the state's Medicaid billing system. Sligh has already been the target of three different state audits (thank you, Beth Wood!), which found that Sligh had wasted at least $1.6 million "through excessive pay to temporary employees, paying temp agencies instead of the state’s less expensive in-house service, paying unjustified overtime, and giving holiday pay to ineligible employees. At least 15 people with personal connections to Sligh were hired in her office. She had hired friends and others she knew, including some from the church she attended and her hairdresser’s sister."

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