RALEIGH (AP) — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has hired a former Republican campaign staffer and lobbyist as the agency’s new director of brands and marketing.
Aaron Mullins, 38, previously worked on the Capitol Hill staffs of then-GOP Sens. Elizabeth Dole and Don Nickles before joining Fetzer Stephens, a political consulting firm led by former North Carolina Republican Party chairman Tom Fetzer. Mullins was registered as a federal lobbyist as recently as last year, according to records.
Mullins also produced a glowing biographical video on Pat McCrory that was shown as part of the future GOP governor’s 2012 election night victory celebration. Records show McCrory’s campaign paid Mullins $7,000.
Health and Human Services spokeswoman Julie Henry said Mullins’ duties will include revamping the agency’s website and expanding its use of social media and video. The new position, which is exempted from state personnel hiring and policy requirements, was publically posted in July.
Mullins began work Sept. 5 at an annual salary of $68,000, the maximum listed in the recruitment notice.
“From public health educational programs to childhood obesity initiatives to complex IT programs, DHHS is an $18 billion organization with very unique and complex communications challenges,” Henry said. “Aaron is an excellent addition to our team, and we’re glad to have him to help take on these challenges.”
Mullins joins an agency that has faced recent scrutiny for hiring decisions and public statements made by DHHS Sec. Aldona Wos, as well as problems with massive new computer systems handling Medicaid payments and public food assistance. Mullins will be supervised by Ricky Diaz, a 24-year-old former McCrory campaign staffer hired as the state agency’s communications director.
In addition to his political experience, Mullins helped develop and film a pilot for a TV drama called “Hard Fix.” The lead character is an Irish pub owner who keeps the secrets of high-profile politicians and helps cover up their potential scandals, sometimes with a gun.