Advocates Dismayed at Termination of DD Waiver Supports Division Director – Was he Thrown Under the Bus?

The Candle has confirmed that Jason Cornwell is no longer the director of the Developmental Disabilities Supports Division. Cornwell was appointed to the position in 2019.

Advocates of clients of the Developmental Disabilities Waiver program (DD Waiver) told The Candle they were upset to learn that Cornwell had been dismissed or had resigned.

Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino (D – Albuquerque), Chairman of the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee expressed shock and stated “Jason was by far the best” director the state has had in that job.

Other advocates and employees of DOH were saddened by his termination.

Robert Kegel, an advocate of more than 38 years, and the father of a DD Waiver client, spoke highly of Cornwell, writing “The best DDSD director in thirty years is gone despite the incredible job he did with the Covid nightmare and the total lack of support from the governor and legislature. It is truly sad.”

The Candle learned that employees and advocates feared the Governor would use Cornwell as a “scapegoat” and throw him under the bus to direct attention away from the highest officials in executive leadership.

On March 13, 2023, The Candle emailed DOH Jodi McGinnis Porter asking (along with other questions), “Have any employees of the department of health been dismissed, placed on leave on any type, or in any way disciplined and or implicated in the alleged misconduct resulting in injury to the unnamed client?”

McGinnis Porter never responded.

In a March 23, 2023, email to McGinnis Porter and Maddy Hayden (communications director for the Governor) The Candle asked if either the director and/or deputy director of the Developmental Disabilities Supports Division were being removed from their positions.

No response was received.

When The Candle learned that Cornwell had been terminated the two communications directors were asked again to either confirm or deny the information received from other sources.

Neither McGinnis Porter or Hayden have responded.

Other than an announcement stating the Governor was appointing another Secretary in her administration to do double duty and take over the job Cornwell had held, the Governor’s public information people have been silent regarding his departure.

In a press release after her media conference last week, the Governor wrote “Secretary Katrina Hotrum-Lopez from the Aging and Long-Term Services Department is stepping in to lead the DDSD as the acting director, as well as lead an internal investigation of the DDSD and DHI to improve internal processes around abuse and neglect. She will continue to serve as the secretary of ALTSD.”

Hotrum-Lopez is a long-time close political ally of the Governor, and there is a fear among some DOH employees that her presence is to protect the Governor’s image.

The Candle was also told by sources at DOH that employees fear disciplinary action, including up to dismissal, if they speak to any reporters about matters the Governor spoke of during her press conference.

The Candle will be reporting on the close political and professional relationship of the Governor and Secretary Hotrum-Lopez in an upcoming story about their work in previous administrations.

Related Stories:

Governor Lujan Grisham is Withholding Information on Horrific Abuse of Young Woman Client of DD Waiver.

House GOP Seeks “Truly Independent Investigation,” DEMS Quiet, After Governor Keeps Legislators in Dark During Session On Full Extent of Abuse of DD Waiver Clients