Out with the Wos

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Former head of NC DHHS Dr. Aldona Wos of Greensboro does the Thriller dance.

Dr. Aldona Wos has always had great timing.

She began prodigious fundraising for President George W. Bush out of her stately Greensboro home just as he was about to win re-election in 2004, the year she was named ambassador to Estonia. She left in 2006, well before W’s policies brought the country to the brink of economic collapse and he used our tax dollars to bail out the banks and the automotive industry.

Her GOP bona fides were well in place — and economic recovery underway — by the time she was named head of the NC Department of Health & Human Services in 2012 by Gov. Pat McCrory, a controversial post from the beginning as she had no experience in government beyond buying and selling the candidates. Right off the bat she appointed a woman as director of child development & early education who had publicly denigrated the importance of pre-K education. Food stamps did not reach their intended recipients for the first eight months of 2013. Data breaches, high-profile resignations and outrageous salaries also marred her first year of service, for which she infamously turned down the annual six-figure salary and opted to be paid the symbolic sum of $1 a year.

She resigned in early August, in a made-for-TV moment in which the governor called her “the best secretary of health & human services this state has ever had,” while Wos handed him a tissue to wipe away his tears.

We now know this moment happened just about a week after the subpoenas came down.

The US Attorney’s office believes that Wos’ DHHS may have been a criminal operation, demanding records that seem to zero in on hiring practices and compensation.

Among those caught in the sting are full-time and contract employees who seem to be paid in excess of their qualifications. One of them, Joe Hauck — a longtime employee of Wos’ husband, Louis DeJoy, and current board member of the Greensboro Partnership — was paid more than $225,000 for just seven months of work. Pay for physicians at DHHS, which Hauck is not, tops out at just under $270,000 a year.

Salaries above $80,000 per year for two 24-year-old staffers also drew the interest of the US Attorney’s office.

The grand jury convened on Aug. 18, though no indictments have been handed down yet.

And even as her administration goes down in flames, her timing remains impeccable.

Her replacement at DHHS, Rick Brajer, said on Monday that Wos’ resignation was in no way connected to the subpoenas that rained down a week before she did left.

Before coming to the department, Brajer resigned in January from his post as CEO of ProNerve, a company that specializes in healthcare logistics that, a month after his departure, began bankruptcy proceedings before being bought out.

Timing, it seems, is the only job requirement in this DHHS.