PITTSBURGH (KDKA) –- Once outgoing Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato leaves office, he will move into the private sector to work for Highmark.

He’s taking criticism for the move.

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Onorato spent an hour on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA answering tough questions.

Marty Griffin: “Aren’t you hired to use your name to influence people?”

Onorato: “No, I’m not going to be a lobbyist. That’s not my role here.”

Griffin: “But you will be using your name to influence people?”

Onorato: “I will be using all of my talents and everything I’ve learned up until 50-years old to help the company that I’m working for just like every other employee. Yes. And I don’t apologize for that.”

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He answered tough questions about his salary, reported to be several hundred thousand dollars.

Griffin: “You go from $90,000 a year to several hundred thousand dollars to suggest folks who say, ‘This guy sold out for money.’ “

Onorato: “Well first, obviously I haven’t talked about my salary and I’m not going to. I do make more than I was making, but I can’t help what people might think. All I know is I’ve spent 20 years in public service. I tried to stay in it longer as you know a year ago – that didn’t work out. It’s now time to take a different path.”

As a representative for Highmark, UPMC sources tell KDKA’s Marty Griffin there is concern Onorato will lobby to hurt UPMC. Onorato says no way.

Griffin: “Is it hard for you to take a side now? You have to take Highmark’s side.”

Onorato: “Well, first of all, these are two big companies, two good companies, two great companies in western Pennsylvania. I’m not here to bad mouth any company right now. There’s a current conflict. Hopefully that’s gonna get resolved. These assets are going to be available to everybody and it’s going to work for the region. They’re both big employers and they’re both here.”

Onorato is an accountant as well as an attorney. He starts his new job with Highmark January 3.

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