You are the governor of North Carolina, and a staffer who did very good work on your election campaign could be a fit for a primo state government job. He’s a smart guy but a young guy, but as any good businessman knows, the smart part is more important than the young part.
That’s about all Gov. Pat McCrory really needed to say this month about Ricky Diaz, a McCrory campaign press secretary who is now communications director for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. Same goes for campaign aide Matthew McKillip, who got a job as chief policy advisor to DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos. Both Diaz and McKillip will make at least $85,000 in their new gigs. Both are 24 years old.
Nothing wrong with that, so long as the governor believes they’re skilled enough to handle important jobs for one of the state’s largest agencies. And that’s what McCrory said this month in an interview with a Raleigh TV station.
But here’s what the governor also said about Diaz and McKillip: “They were actually moved over to areas that, frankly, a lot of older people applied for, too.”
That’s apparently not true. As the Associated Press reported this week, DHHS has been unable to provide evidence that the jobs Diaz and McKillip got were ever advertised to potential applicants, or that other candidates were considered.
Which brings up a question that’s potentially more disturbing than political hires: Does our governor have a problem with the truth?
It was just last month that McCrory, in a response to a question about Moral Monday protesters, said he goes out into the crowds “all of the time” to talk with them. That whopper spawned a fruitless social media hunt for evidence McCrory had done what he said, along with a “Pat Was There” Twitter account that pokes fun at the governor still.
Both flubs might have been written off as, well, flubs had McCrory not made an issue out of truth-telling by going back on his word not to sign into law any abortion restrictions. He made that vow in 2012, then broke it last month by signing a bill with several restrictions that had little to do with women’s health, which is what the governor tried to claim.
Yes, there’s a difference between breaking a campaign promise and straying from the facts to avoid unpleasant questioning. The former is something we sadly expect of our politicians. The latter might oddly be more troubling, because it speaks to a willingness to make things up.
That’s not what North Carolinians want to believe about their governor, who by the way is well within his rights to hire Diaz and McKillip for similar pay as more experienced predecessors. He also doesn’t have to offer a chance at the job to others. The two positions are exempt from standard state rules on hiring and compensation.
Still, people were going to disagree with those hires, as they might with any of his decisions. Some will even write editorials. That’s part of being governor, and McCrory isn’t the first to have his hiring questioned.
But the governor needs to own up to his choices. And he needs to be more careful with his facts.
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