Rep Brooks Landgraf’s Chief of Staff

Another example of a career bureaucrat. Hopes from one division of government to the other. How can he be expected to perform his duty to be a “check” on the other divisions when he may one day be asking them for a job? 

Now paid over $71,000 a year as COS in Office of House District 81.

Found this on Texas Tribune facepage: 

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. Cazares could not immediately be reached for comment.

In just three years working for the massive Texas health agency, Cody Cazares saw his yearly salary more than double to $112,000 while working for Jack Stick, the former top state official now at the center of a criminal inquiry for his handling of a Medicaid fraud contract.

Yet perhaps more notable than Cazares’ steep pay increases is his abrupt pay cut and demotion. Officials at the Health and Human Services Commission slashed his pay to $55,000 on Jan. 1, just two weeks after he and two others were placed on paid leave because of questions surrounding a $20 million contract with Austin tech company 21CT and a pending $90 million contract extension that was canceled last month.

Cazares was demoted to a staff services position. Previously, he was director of administration in the office of chief counsel, working closely with Stick, the commission’s top lawyer who resigned last month. Cazares, 34, was first hired in 2011 by the commission’s Office of Inspector General, where he was chief of staff for Stick, who was then deputy inspector general.

Stick and Inspector General Doug Wilson resigned last month following American-Statesman stories that revealed Stick skirted procurement laws in brokering the no-bid deals.

State officials then looked at what Cazares was doing while working for Stick and decided that role — and its six-figure salary — was unnecessary.

“After (Stick) resigned last month, we reviewed the actual duties and responsibilities of the position and determined it should have a lower classification and salary,” spokeswoman Linda Edwards Gockel told the Statesman Monday.

State officials say there is no evidence Cazares has done anything wrong, but he was placed on administrative leave from the job to eliminate the appearance of a conflict of interest during an investigation by the State Auditor’s Office, which is working in tandem with the Travis County district attorney’s Public Integrity Unit.

Cazares declined to comment Monday. Stick told the Statesman that he hired Cazares because he was highly qualified for his jobs at both the inspector general’s office and the commission.


Cody Cazares file

“Whatever the reason for this action, Cody Cazares is an excellent employee and a smart guy,” Stick said. “Whoever he ends up working with will be lucky.”

Stick said he didn’t remember whether Cazares’ job at the Office of Inspector General was a new position, but more than 100 jobs had been created, moved or eliminated during Stick’s first year in the agency because he didn’t like its organizational structure. Cazares was paid $52,000.

Six months after Cazares took the job, he received a promotion and a $23,000 raise, state records show. Stick said that’s because he had given Cazares many more responsibilities and authority. During that time, Cazares worked with 21CT on technology matters.


In February 2014, Stick was named chief counsel to the commission. When he took that job, Stick said, he was charged with consolidating legal services across all of the human services agencies, such as the Department of State Health Services. He wanted someone to help him.

Three other people were interviewed for that job, a spokeswoman said. In September 2014, Stick said he settled on Cazares and suggested the salary. Cazares was named director of administration for the Office of Chief Counsel.

“Cody edged the next best candidate because he had demonstrated his ability to work with major changes under stressful conditions,” Stick said. “His salary was commensurate with his classification and responsibilities.”

Both of Cazares’ promotions were approved by other state leaders. Wilson signed off on Cazares’ promotion at the Inspector General’s office, Stick said. Chris Traylor, chief deputy commissioner for the Health and Human Services Commission, approved the $112,000 job because Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek — who would ordinarily approve such promotions — was out of the office, a spokeswoman said.


Cazares worked as a special assistant to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst from 2005 to 2010, according to his employment history filed with the state. Cazares landed that job, and others including managing campaigns for Republicans, before he completed a bachelor’s degree in 2007.

In his application for the first job with the Office of Inspector General, Cazares said he performed duties typical of an aide to a legislator, such as Dewhurst, including coordinating public appearances and working with other legislative staff.

But Cazares, who graduated with a political science degree from Baylor University, also listed a less typical specialty in his work for Dewhurst:

“Monitored progress of new programs and technologies and made recommendations on necessary modifications to improve efficiency and effective policy/technology implementation,” the application said.

The particulars of those duties are unclear, but the language is almost verbatim to the advertised qualifications for that job.

“Monitors progress of new programs and technologies and makes recommendations on necessary modifications to improve efficiency and effective policy/technology implementation,” the posting said.

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