HHS departures signal new secretary's 'no-nonsense' approach: report

Two U.S. Health and Human Services appointees left the agency this week after months of igniting controversy on social media, according to a report.

The departures signaled what one HHS source described as a "no-nonsense" and "highly professional" management approach being taken by HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Politico reported.

“There could be more changes to come as the secretary gets fully on board and staffed up,” the source told the news outlet.

“There could be more changes to come as the secretary gets fully on board and staffed up.”

— HHS source

Azar has been leading the agency since January, when the Senate confirmed his appointment by President Donald Trump.

The Politico report identified the two HHS staffers who've left the agency as Gavin Smith, a policy adviser who resigned Friday, and Tim Clark, the agency’s White House liaison, who is expected to depart in the coming weeks.

Prior to his HHS appointment, Clark was the Trump campaign’s California chairman. On more than one occasion, Clark punctuated tweets with the hastag "#SpiritCooking," in reference to a debunked conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta engaged in Satanic ritual, the report said.

Smith gained a reputation for routinely mocking critics of the president, for example referring to U.S. senators as "crazy" or "clueless."

The appointees’ incendiary posts had long been a headache for HHS, which received heightened attention after a Politico report.

Azar’s predecessor Tom Price resigned after reports of his use of “costly” private jets and fractious leadership.

Azar, 51, is married with two children. Prior to joining HHS, he lived in Indiana with his family for about a decade, according to his Health and Human Services Department biography.

The Yale-educated lawyer also attended Dartmouth College, where he graduated summa cum laude, according to the biography.

Azar, who once clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, has spent a large chunk of his career in the healthcare industry.

He previously served as general counsel of HHS and later as deputy secretary of HHS under former President George W. Bush.

Fox News' Madeline Farber contributed to this story.

Editor's Note: After this story was published, Fox News received an email from Riley N. Althouse, press assistant in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at HHS. The message, attributed to Peter Urbanowitz, chief of staff, said the following:

“Mr. Clark has long planned this position change and delayed that move for several months to assure a smooth transition for the new Secretary. He has been a huge help and strong partner in our success.”