The Washington Post

D.C. Health Care Finance HR director, son fired in nepotism probe

The city agency that controls hundreds of millions of dollars in health care spending is without a human resources department following the firing of its director, her son, and her personal assistant as part of a nepotism investigation.

 Wayne Turnage, the director of the Department of the Health Care Finance, said Friday that Kim McRae and her son, Chase Lancaster, were dismissed because they did not disclose the relationship when Lancaster was hired. McRae’s personal assistant was also terminated Friday as part of the investigation, Turnage said.

 The dismissals come just as Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) has started to move past the allegations of nepotism and cronyism that dogged the early days of his administration. In this case, however, Lancaster’s hiring took place under former Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D).

 Neither McRae nor Lancaster were immediately available to comment.

 According to Turnage, McRae brought her son into the agency as an intern in May 2009.  At the time, Turnage said, he failed to report that he was related to anyone in the agency. Turnage said Lancaster then had a “meteoric rise” within the agency, eventually reaching the level of management assistant with a $56,000 annual salary.

Last summer, the Office of the Inspector General and the D.C. Department of Human Resources began investigating Lancaster’s hiring.

 “I did not hear about it until September,” said Turnage. “I asked Kim about it and she said, ‘Yes, he was on board and had been promoted.”

After the Department of Human Resources issued a report on the matter this spring, Turnage said he asked that McRae and Lancaster be dismissed.  McRae’s personal assistant was also let go because she knew about the relationship and failed to report it, officials said.  

 “Your HR shop has to be like Caesar’s wife,” Turnage said. “You can’t have people treating people unfairly inequitably or doing something that is a clearly a violation of any standard.”

 Turnage was also at the center of trying to root out alleged nepotism and cronyism during the early days of Gray’s administration. In January, Turnage fired former mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown from a $110,000 agency job, causing Brown to allege that he had received payments from the mayor’s 2010 campaign.

 Until a new human resources director can be selected, Turnage said all agency personnel matters are being handled by the city Department of Human Services. 

Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.


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