KELLEY LINCK: Leaving DHS.

The Department of Human Services’ top lobbyist, former legislator Kelley Linck, is hitting the door for the private sector, as others in the department have.

Linck, who’s paid $127,000 as chief of legislative affairs, responded to my question about his new employer by saying, “My next employer and I would like to make that announcement with a press release tomorrow. ”

I said I was interested if he’d be working for someone with state business. He commented in response:

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I’ve worked openly w attorneys at DHS and new employer through this process to avoid any violations of state law or DHS policy.

From a news release:

“Kelley stepped in at a time when we needed to improve our relationship with and responsiveness to the Legislature, and I am eternally grateful for the time he’s spent here and his leadership. Through his office, we have worked hard to more quickly provide elected officials with the information and answers they need to do their jobs. We also now have a constituent services unit that promptly handles inquiries from legislators and others,” DHS Secretary Cindy Gillespie said. “Kelley’s commitment to transparency and understanding of legislative processes; as well as  the importance of timely, accurate information to legislators, changed the way DHS interacted with the Arkansas General Assembly. Kelley has made a positive difference at DHS and will be sorely missed.”

Linck started at DHS in June 2016 after stepping down from his post as a State Representative from Flippin and as the chair of the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee.

“I have loved serving the State with the people at DHS, and I will truly miss them and the mission of the Department,” Linck said. “But with the legislative session over, now is a good time for me to move on to the next chapter.”

Linck’s last day is Oct. 4. Gillespie said she has not yet selected his replacement.

Earlier today, DHS announced that DHS Deputy Counsel Jerry Sharum had been named head of the division of provider services and quality assurance. He succeeds Craig Cloud, who went to work for a health services provider, Friendship Community Services, he’d regulated. He’s said he’d not work on contracts on which he’d worked for a year cooling-off period required by law.