Local Politics

Auditor: Probe into Mary Easley's raise was flawed

Posted July 14, 2009

— State Auditor Beth Wood on Tuesday defended her decision to halt a probe into Mary Easley's $170,000 annual salary at North Carolina State University, saying the audit was inaccurate.

A federal grand jury in May subpoenaed all records the auditor's office had on Mary Easley's job as part of an investigation into the dealings of former Gov. Mike Easley.

State Auditor Beth Wood Web only: Auditor discusses Easley case

Former State Auditor Les Merritt started looking into Mary Easley's salary after N.C. State gave her a promotion and an 88 percent raise last summer. When Wood, who defeated Merritt in the November election, saw the audit early this year, she found it to be partisan and lacking credibility, including inaccurate comparisons to Easley's salary, she said Tuesday.

Wood said she held back the audit with the intention of getting accurate information and then stepped aside when the federal grand jury started looking into the issue. She maintains that there was no political pressure to block the investigation.

Wood and the Easleys are Democrats, while Merritt is a Republican.

"I'm not trying to protect any Democrats. I was not trying to protect the Easleys. I just wanted a fair, impartial, independent audit so whatever the conclusions were, people could count on the facts," she said.

Frank Perry, the lead investigator for the Easley audit, disputes Wood's claim of partisanship in the report.

"The conduct of the investigators was beyond reproach, and the content and findings of the case were beyond doubt,” said Perry, who no longer works in the auditor's office.

He said he respects Wood's decision not to release the audit publicly, but he doesn't agree with it.

"I believe the audit should have been released," he said. "Mary Easley’s salary was not justified.”


This story is closed for comments.

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  • GWALLY Jul 15, 2009

    It's must be good to be a liberal tax and spend democrat......I know you folks are just soooooooooo proud of what you have put in this state and Washington!!!!

  • PaulRevere Jul 15, 2009

    Straight-ticket democrat voters...lord y'all are some good voters!

  • Weetie Jul 15, 2009

    Can no one in State Government do anything right?

  • censorbait Jul 15, 2009

    Well, you dems elected the fox to guard the henhouse with Beth Wood. She is lying when she says she is not protecting any democrats or being partisan. That is exactly what she is doing. This is not the last item she will sweep under the rug if it involves her political cronies in the democrat party. She has no credibility whatsoever and simply provides cover for crooks. I know all of the scoundrels in Raleigh are glad Les Merritt is gone and they have their "party girl" to cover their behinds.

  • ncguy Jul 15, 2009

    I contacted Mr Bowles and he sent me a "job description" that NCSU sent him to support the raise.

    Mr Bowles is just as guilty as the rest!!!

    Mr Bowles should be investigated and his position revoked until the verdict is in.

  • MamaDummy Jul 15, 2009

    Aren't the employees of the State Auditor's office paid with public tax money? Thats what audits are for; to disclose information that could expose wrongdoing..so, cough it up..

  • cameragirl Jul 15, 2009

    So, there goes Bev Perdue's "Open Book" from the start. Why won't the Auditor's office release the audit? Is there something there that Beth wants to hide for the Easley's? If she would just release the audit then people wouldn't feel that she has something to hide. I admire Les Merritt. He didn't care whos toes he stepped on. He and his auditors went after the corruption in the government. Now that he is gone it seems as though we still have Ralph Campbell who was friends with the good ol' boys. Beth, Let's see some open bood here in your office or are you afraid that the good ol' boys won't like you.

  • clayt85 Jul 15, 2009

    Amazing how many people know for a fact that Beth Wood is (or is not) corrupt without ever having seen a word of any audit report.

    The Easley's are probably guilty as sin. But we have this thing called due process, and it applies to everyone... politicians (of both stripes) included. If the audit report was biased in any way, it would be thrown out of court by the very expensive team of attorneys that the Easley's will hire.

    From that perspective, Wood may have done NC a huge favor. Or she might be as corrupt as the Easley's. The point is, not a single soul on this message board knows which.

    In the mean time, I can only assume from the preponderance of Democrat-insulting comments that the GOP supporters are desperate to climb back into the fight... even if the only means of doing so is to latch onto stories such as this and extrapolate them to the national level.

  • commandokidd Jul 15, 2009

    what else is new?

  • jturlington61 Jul 15, 2009

    I personally know Beth Wood, Les Merritt, Frank Perry, and three of the investigators from the auditor's office who were involved with the NCSU/Mary Easley investigation. I have the highest regard for the honesty and integerity of five of them--Les Merritt, Frank Perry, and the three investigative auditors. Their ethics and morales are without reproach. The "dung beetle" among this group is Beth Wood. Three years and four months before we can vote her out of office.