Gov. Pat McCrory continued to stand by the head of his state health agency on Friday, amid mounting calls from Democrats to fire her.
The governor’s office released a statement of support after the Legislative Black Caucus in the General Assembly simultaneously held five news conferences around the state calling for McCrory to immediately replace Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Aldona Wos.
“The governor has confidence that Secretary Wos and her team are working hard to ensure that those who need benefits receive benefits,” Deputy Communications Director Ryan Tronovitch said in a statement emailed to reporters. “Another gimmicky press scheme from the extreme left won’t help solve the problem.”
McCrory met with members of the the black caucus last year.
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The flare-up was sparked by the caucus’ discovery on Thursday of a letter from the U.S. Department of Agriculture threatening to sanction the state for failing to show it was taking steps to fix widespread problems with food stamp applications. That was only the latest among several DHHS controversies over the past year since the McCrory administration has been in office.
“What’s happening at DHHS now is embarrassing and humiliating to every person in the state of North Carolina,” Rep. Yvonne Holley, a Democrat representing Wake County, said at the Raleigh news conference in the statehouse. “We’ve had not one, not two, not three but several repeated and consistent issues.”
Rep. Rosa Gill, a Wake County Democrat, said, “DHHS is in a state of crisis. … It is time for the governor to step up and say enough is enough.”
Rep. Michael Wray, a Democrat representing Halifax and Northampton counties, is not a member of the black caucus, but he attended the news conference as a member of the House Health and Human Services Committee.
“The buck stops at the top,” Wray say. “Just like a football team, you fire the coach. It’s not just one incident, it’s time and time again.”
Wray noted the agency will be back in front of his committee on Tuesday. “They’ll be trying to explain themselves,” he said. “We need results, we don’t need more explanations.”
Tronovitch said the federal agriculture department letter was nearly a month old and DHHS has already taken the corrective action required. He said the agency is continuing to work with USDA.