One of three Texas Health and Human Services Commission employees put on paid administrative leave amid a probe into the agency’s contracting procedures is facing a 50 percent cut to his salary.
Cody Cazares, who was until recently the chief of staff for HHSC's top lawyer, Jack Stick, had his pay slashed from $112,000 to $55,000 effective Jan. 1, state records show. Reached by email, Cazares referred reporters to HHSC's communications office.
Stephanie Goodman, a spokeswoman for HHSC, said now that Stick is no longer the agency's chief counsel, "it was appropriate to review the position and what the job duties would be in the future."
Cazares' pay cut is the latest in a series of high-profile changes at the agency in the weeks since HHSC has come under fire for awarding a $110 million Medicaid fraud software deal to a relatively unknown company called 21 Century Technologies Inc.
Stick resigned over the ordeal on Dec. 12. On Dec. 19, Gov. Rick Perry asked for and received the resignation of Doug Wilson, HHSC's inspector general. That same week, state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, asked the state's public integrity unit to investigate the contract, and HHSC Commissioner Kyle Janek asked the state auditor's office to review the inspector general office's contracting procedures, including how 21CT received the first piece of that contract — $20 million — without going through a competitive HHSC bidding process.
Cazares and two others remain on indefinite administrative leave to guard against any conflict of interest during the state auditor's review: Erica Stick, Jack Stick's wife and Janek's chief of staff; and Frianita Wilson, Doug Wilson's wife, who works in purchasing at the Department of Family and Protective Services.
Cazares, who was hired by Stick when Stick was the agency's deputy inspector general, saw his agency salary spike from $52,000 to $112,200 between 2011 and 2014, amid his promotions, records show. As of Jan. 1, he is now listed as a "staff service officer 3" in state records.