In another shake up, McCrory’s top spokeswoman departs

jfrank@newsobserver.comFebruary 7, 2014 

Gov. Pat McCrory is losing another high-profile aide from his office, the third announcement in as many weeks as he seeks to reboot after a tumultuous first year.

His chief spokeswoman, Communications Director Kim Genardo, announced Friday that she would take a new role at the state Department of Commerce, where she will serve as director of strategic and economic development communications.

McCrory announced Josh Ellis, communications director for Commerce, would replace Genardo. Ellis is the governor’s third communications director in a year, a trajectory that highlights the Republican administration’s trouble communicating his message and handling a series of controversies in his first months that hurt his approval ratings.

The move means Chief of Staff Thomas Stith is the lone top aide remaining in the Capitol building from McCrory’s first team.

It is not uncommon for a governor’s office to experience turnover in its first months. But since McCrory took office in January 2013, he has lost eight key staffers, according to state personnel records, including three of his five highest-paid aides.

McCrory’s senior jobs adviser, Tony Almeida, left Friday. He said he was retiring to spend more time with his family. Jonathan Felts, a former Bush administration official who served as the governor’s political director, left Jan. 21 to take a private sector job.

The three are the latest to leave in a shake up, adding to the departures of Department of Health and Human Services chief spokesman Ricky Diaz in January, deputy jobs adviser Blannie Cheng in December, Public Safety Secretary Kieran Shanahan in July and governor’s office Communications Director Chris Walker at the end of February last year.

Genardo’s move is effective Feb. 17. The former NBC 17 political reporter started in Feb. 27, 2013, and made $120,000 a year. Her salary will not change.

Ellis made $75,000 in the Commerce Department; he will make $105,000 in his new job.

Ellis was a reporter at State Government Radio in Raleigh before moving to the Commerce Department in 2011 under former Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue.

In a statement, McCrory praised Ellis’ experience. “His years of work in and around both the legislative and executive branches of government will be a valuable asset to our team,” McCrory said.

He also thanked Genardo, saying he was “grateful for her willingness to join ... (a) team in a critical area of communications for the entire state.”

Frank: 919-829-4698

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