Under the Dome

Dome: DHHS makes clear who fired former head of oral health program

From Staff ReportsSeptember 18, 2013 

The state Department of Health and Human Services wants to make clear who fired Dr. Rebecca King, the former head of the state’s oral health program.

It was Danny Staley, acting director of the Division of Public Health, who penned the letter of dismissal. Spokesman Ricky Diaz took issue with a News & Observer article published Wednesday about DHHS hiring a McCrory campaign donor, which also said Secretary Aldona Wos fired King.

In his letter, Staley said King’s behavior toward Wos in a staff meeting in August was inappropriate, accusatory, unprofessional, defamatory, mean-spirited and condemnatory.

“The manner in which you addressed Secretary Wos was reprehensible and unbecoming a state employee,” Staley concluded. King, Staley wrote, had said that the Department did not support the oral health program at the General Assembly.

Dome asked Diaz whether Wos ordered or approved the dismissal, or was unaware that King would be fired. Diaz did not reply.

In an interview, King said one reason for her firing was her lack of cooperation in ferreting out hygienists who took vacation time to lobby legislators against cuts.

Diaz said the department did not try to discipline anyone for visiting the legislature.

Beasley plans to run

State Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley announced Wednesday she will be a candidate for her current seat next year.

Beasley was a state Appeals Court judge when Gov. Bev Perdue appointed her in December to the vacant Supreme Court seat created when Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson retired. Beasley said she will file in February for the election in November 2014.

Beasley served on the Court of Appeals from 2009 to 2012 and was a District Court judge in Cumberland County from 1999 to 2008.

She received her law degree at the University of Tennessee.

Brunstetter eyes U.S. Senate

State Sen. Pete Brunstetter is considering joining the Republican fray to win his party’s nomination to run against Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan next year.

Brunstetter told The Associated Press that Senate leader Phil Berger – who also is considering running – asked him to think about it.

Brunstetter, 57, said he wouldn’t compete against Berger. A spokesman for Berger said the Senate leader hadn’t decided yet, but if he doesn’t run, he will be “supportive” of Brunstetter.

There are four declared candidates in the GOP primary, including House Speaker Thom Tillis.

Brunstetter is a four-term senator from Winston-Salem who works as a corporate attorney.

Excessive Tillis donations

The Federal Elections Commission recently identified more than $20,000 in excessive contributions to Thom Tillis’ U.S. Senate campaign – a problem a campaign spokesman said Tuesday they are working to fix. The campaign also contends the FEC acted too quickly in sending the letter.

The FEC letter identified five donors who gave more than the $2,600 donation limit, including prominent North Carolina businessman Felix Sabates, who is perhaps best known on the NASCAR circuit for his Winston Cup teams and hiring Kyle Petty as a driver.

Another donor on the list is Anthony Cupisz, the president of ACN, a Concord company that found itself in hot water three years ago when Montana regulators accused it of running a pyramid scheme. ACN officials called it a misunderstanding of how their services work. The complaint was later resolved. The company sells digital phone and Internet services through independent sales agents. ACN representatives donated more than $20,000 to Tillis’ campaign.

Staff writers Joseph Neff, John Frank and Craig Jarvis

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