RALEIGH: DHHS spokesman Diaz leaving for DC job - WNCN: News, Weather

DHHS spokesman Diaz leaving for DC job

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

Ricky Diaz is leaving the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to join a Washington public relations firm, FP1 Strategies, the firm announced Wednesday.

Diaz, who had served as spokesman for the Pat McCrory campaign, later joined DHHS as communications director at a salary of $85,000.

That salary, as well as other financial decisions by DHHS, drew criticism from some given his lack of experience for that level position. McCrory defended the hire in an interview with WNCN.

His last day at DHHS will be Jan. 24, according to DHHS press assistant Kirsti Clifford. He will be a vice president of FP1 beginning in February.

"We are thrilled to welcome Ricky to our firm," FP1 Strategies Partner Jon Downs said in a statement. "Ricky has a unique background in strategic communications, media relations, digital media, video production and branding that will help our firm deliver the best television, radio and online advertising campaigns for our clients."

DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos issued a statement Wednesday thanking Diaz for his eight months at the state agency.

"Ricky is a bright, energetic leader and a strong communicator," Wos said. "I thank him for his hard work and dedication, and his efforts to increase the efficiency and streamline the operations of the Office of Communications. His work will leave a lasting impression on the Department. We will miss him, but I know he will achieve great things working in our nation's capital."

DHHS has had some high-profile struggles, and just last week admitted it had sent the wrong Medicaid cards to almost 50,000 people.

Clifford said Diaz was not available for interviews.

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