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Kemp aide Broce named to lead Department of Human Services

September 14, 2021 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) — A longtime aide to Gov. Brian Kemp is being named to lead Georgia’s largest government agency.

The state Board of Human Services voted unanimously on Monday to appoint Candice Broce as commissioner of the Georgia Department of Human Services.

Broce replaces Gerlda B. Hines, who had been named commissioner on July 1. Kemp then named Hines, formerly chief of staff at the department, as the state’s chief accounting officer. The commissioner before Hines, Robin Crittenden, was named as the state’s revenue commissioner.

Broce was first Kemp’s communications director and then the state’s chief operating officer. She was named as the interim director of the department’s Division of Family and Children Services in July after director Tom Rawlings resigned. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Rawlings had confronted a police officer, security guard and members of a crew filming a television series on July 15. Rawlings said Kemp asked him to resign the next day.

“I truly am honored that the board would support me in this initiative,” Broce said after the vote to appoint her. “I’m ready to work with everybody and see what we can do to keep the great progress that Commissioner Crittenden and Commissioner Hines have put in motion over the years.”

In an unusual move, Broce will remain director of the Division of Family and Children Services while serving as commissioner. She had no experience in the field before being appointed to lead the division in July. Besides child welfare, the department oversees child support, adoption services, food stamps, cash welfare payments, and services for the aging. The department has more than 9,000 employees and a budget of $1.9 billion.

“You didn’t just accept one job, you accepted two jobs,” said board member Randy Smith. “I think it’s a great move strategically to cut out some of the duplication of process.”

Broce told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the two roles will help streamline the hiring of employees and technology updates. She will be paid $180,000 a year.

Broce’s husband, Jason Broce, is a lobbyist who has represented groups including hospitals, nursing homes, doctors and nurses.

Candice Broce told the newspaper that her chief of staff or a lawyer will step in if there is a conflict of interest. Under an executive order Kemp issued earlier this year, Broce said she will regularly disclose all potential conflicts.

“I am an independent woman,” Broce said. “I am not defined by what my husband does for a living. I operate with integrity in everything I do.”