The wife of a lobbyist with close ties to the governor has resigned from her job with the Texas Health Department, saying she feared her continued employment would distract from the efforts of the fitness campaign she was hired to lead.
The Houston Chronicle reported last week that Martha "Marty" McCartt began directing the Texas Round-up festival, a program touted by Gov. Rick Perry, on July 1 with a salary of $40,000. The newspaper reported the job was not advertised or posted as normally required for state positions at that level.
Health Department spokesman Doug McBride said Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Albert Hawkins waived that requirement.
McCartt said in a resignation letter sent Friday to the Texas Department of Health that she would continue to serve as festival director and would work with an organization that will raise donations to support it.
"I am concerned that my continued employment with the Texas Department of Health would serve as a distraction from the important cause of fighting obesity and promoting healthy choices and physical activity," she wrote.
The governor's office has said that the recommendation to hire McCartt was based solely on her work to create and coordinate the first Texas Round-up. She said she left a higher-paying job when she was told about the job as director of Texas Round-up.
McCartt's husband, J. McCartt, is treasurer of a political action committee that pushed an amendment to finance highway construction through the Texas Mobility Fund in 2001.