The McCrory administration’s 24-year-old health department spokesman is headed to Washington, less than a year after his appointment stoked controversy.
Ricky Diaz was a senior at Vanderbilt University in 2011, Pat McCrory’s press secretary in 2012, and the communications director for the Department of Health and Human Services in 2013.
In a press release, Diaz announced today he has accepted a position with Republican campaign firm FP1 Strategies in Washington, D.C. Diaz told the Raleigh News and Observer that he wanted to get back to campaigning, but declined further comment.
Diaz leaves a health department that has faced near-constant criticism, including about delayed Medicaid and food stamp payments and payouts to the politically-connected, starting with his appointment. Diaz and another McCrory campaign staffer received more than $20,000 raises, bringing his total salary to $85,000, while the department was in a hiring freeze.
Last week, Diaz was back in the spotlight after the health department mailed the private information of 49,000 children on Medicaid to the wrong addresses. Diaz incorrectly told reporters that state officials discovered the leak Thursday, when they had been informing counties of the error days earlier.
Perhaps Diaz’s most significant move at the agency was reorganizing and expanding the health department’s public affairs office to resemble a political campaign’s messaging arm, including creating public relations and marketing teams.