Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs withdraws nomination for Dept. of Child Safety director

Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs has withdrawn her nomination for the director of the Dept. of Child Safety, stating that he "wasn't the right fit."

The Democratic governor announced Thursday that Matthew Stewart, her selection to lead the state’s Department of Child Services, was leaving the position in the "best interest of all parties involved."

Stewart had been at the helm for only six weeks. He was also the first Black director of the agency.

Arizona State Senate Republicans say they found a troubling history when vetting his nomination.

In a statement, they say he was reprimanded from "insubordination and unauthorized absence" when he was a DCS training operations supervisor in 2020.

State Sen. Jake Hoffman said in a statement that Stewart had made "questionable moves on consulting contracts" and had received a reprimand while working at the agency.

"He then resigned from his position immediately before an intended suspension could be issued to him," said Kim Quintero, director of communications for the Arizona State Senate Republic Caucus.

Hobbs confirmed Thursday that Stewart is not moving forward as the nominee.

"This was the best decision for everyone involved at the end of the day," Hobbs said. "He wasn't the right fit and as a governor and as a social worker, I take the direction of this agency very seriously."

Michael Wisehart will serve as the interim director for DCS until a new nominee is appointed.

This all comes on the heels of the governor withdrawing her nomination earlier this month of Dr. Theresa Cullen to lead the state Department of Health Services.

A Republican-led state Senate committee considering Cullen’s nomination raised concerns about pandemic business closures and curfews in Pima County, where Cullen serves as the public health director. So, Cullen opted not to proceed with the nomination.

She remains Pima County public health director.

Hobbs said she suspected politics was at play among Senate Republicans.

The Associated Press contibuted to this report.

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Matthew Stewart

Matthew Stewart