DHHS gave big contract to Wos acquaintance

Sep. 06, 2013 @ 12:15 PM

A man who works for the husband of North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos landed a lucrative government contract to provide her with advice.

Wos' agency has refused for three weeks to provide The Associated Press with a copy of the consulting contract awarded to Joe Hauck or say how much he is paid, information that is a public record under state law.

Hauck is the vice president of sales and marketing for New Breed Logistics, a High Point company for which Wos' husband Louis DeJoy is the chief executive officer.

It is not clear what specific work Hauck has performed for DHHS. His resume posted online lists no prior experience in the field of health care.

Hauck did not respond to messages left for him this week with his assistant at New Breed, which specializes in supply chain management. DHHS spokeswoman Julie Henry also did not respond to multiple calls and emails this week.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Friday that Hauck has been paid $228,000 in the past eight months, which would make him among the agency's highest compensated individuals.

In a written statement to the newspaper, DHHS communications director Ricky Diaz said Hauck had assisted Wos in "assembling a top-notch management team in order to reorganize, redirect and restructure the department."

A doctor from Greensboro, Wos' leadership of the state's largest departmental agency has been under scrutiny for months. A former ambassador to Estonia under President George W. Bush and campaign fundraiser for Gov. Pat McCrory, Wos has used her government position to surround herself with Republican Party operatives.

Diaz, a 24-year-old former campaign spokesman for McCrory, is paid $85,000 a year to manage the agency's message and oversee compliance with the state's public records law. Wos' chief adviser for policy issues is another 24-year-old, former McCrory campaign staffer Matthew McKillip. He is paid $87,500.

Details of all DHHS contracts are supposed to be available on the agency's web site.

Hauck is listed as receiving an individual consulting contract from Wos' office naming him as a "senior adviser" on March 1. That original short-term contract has been extended and amended at least 4 times as of Aug. 30. However, the agency's web site publically lists Hauck's compensation under that contract and extensions as $0.

Like Wos, Hauck has been a strong political supporter of McCrory, who took office in January. Hauck and his wife have donated $14,750 to McCrory's gubernatorial campaign, according to records at the N.C. Board of Elections.

All told, New Breed employees and members of their families gave more than $216,000 to McCrory's campaign, according to a report issued earlier this year by Progress NC, a left-leaning policy group. The company led by Wos' husband also gave $25,000 to the Republican Governors Association, which supported McCrory's campaign.

On Friday, Progress NC spokesman Gerrick Brenner repeated the group's call for members of the GOP-controlled state legislature to investigate hiring and compensation practices in the McCrory administration.

"DHHS is an example of cronyism gone wild and Gov. McCrory is defending their hiring practices," Brenner said. "So now it's time for the legislature to step in and investigate. It's their duty to provide oversight."