Charles Henry, director of the Los Angeles County Office of AIDS Programs and Policy, has been removed from his position as county AIDS officer, the Los Angeles Times reports. County health officials did not disclose why Henry was demoted, but his removal from the AIDS office came after the completion of a county audit into his fund-raising activities for Los Angeles mayoral candidate Antonio Villaraigosa. The health department in March announced an investigation into whether Henry used county resources while soliciting contributions for Villaraigosa's campaign from city contractors and as to whether his actions constituted a conflict of interest. County supervisor Michael Antonovich also asked for an audit into all AIDS contracts established in the previous four years to see if the county had been properly billed for AIDS services.
Henry's attorney, Winston Kevin McKesson, says Henry has not been given the results of the investigation or told why he was demoted. He also denies that Henry violated county rules when fund-raising for Villaraigosa's campaign. "Everything he did was open, obvious, and above-board," he told the Times. "He built a brick wall between his position in the county and his volunteer efforts for Villaraigosa."
Henry had served for seven years as director of the AIDS office, which distributes more than $82 million annually in federal, state, and local funding for HIV prevention, treatment, and care programs. Henry remains a county employee and will continue to receive his $113,000 annual salary. County health officials say he has been put on "special assignment" but did not offer details on the duties or job description of Henry's new assignment.
County health officials say they will soon appoint an interim director for the AIDS office and will launch a nationwide search for a permanent replacement.