Local Politics

Former Easley aide appears at federal courthouse

Posted August 19, 2009

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— A former top adviser for former Gov. Mike Easley was seen going into the federal courthouse in Raleigh Wednesday afternoon.

A grand jury investigating Easley's dealings while in office with friends and contributors was meeting inside the courthouse.

Susan Rabon served on Easley's staff when he was both governor and attorney general. He appointed her in December to a position on the state Utilities Commission.

Rabon was inside the courthouse for about three hours and declined to comment as she left.

It's not clear what aspect of the investigation might have warranted testimony from Rabon. The grand jury has examined the former governor's travel, vehicles provided to the Easley family, the purchase of a waterfront lot at a below-market price and North Carolina State University's hiring of his wife, Mary Easley.

The grand jury has also subpoenaed documents from the state Division of Motor Vehicles and the State Auditor's Office.

Auditor Beth Wood and her chief deputy, Wesley Ray, were expected to testify to the grand jury Wednesday, but they didn't show up at the courthouse.

Wood, a Democrat, was subpoenaed to answer questions about her relationship with Easley, his wife and some former Easley staff members and contributors, including any campaign contributions or gifts she might have received from them.

The subpoenas for Wood and Ray also show the grand jury wants to review records about investigations by the State Auditor's Office into Mary Easley's position at N.C. State and overseas trips taken by the former first lady.

N.C. State hired Mary Easley in 2005 and promoted her last year to a $170,000-a-year position. Questions about her hiring led to the resignations this spring of three high-ranking university officials.

The university fired her in May, citing budget cuts to programs she oversaw. She has filed a grievance over the firing.

Wood inherited the N.C. State audit from former State Auditor Les Merritt, but she refused to release it, saying that it wasn't credible. Merritt, a Republican, said he stands by the audit and that it should have been released.

Wood also said she put the brakes on because she learned the FBI was investigating the issue.

"I'm not trying to protect any Democrats," Wood said in an interview last month with WRAL News. "I was not trying to protect the Easleys. I just want a fair, impartial, independent audit so whatever the conclusions were, people could count on the facts."

This is the second set of subpoenas the State Auditor's Office has received. Federal investigators previously subpoenaed all documents related to any inquiry by the auditor into Mary Easley's hiring at N.C. State, including any investigative report of the university's provost.

Wood didn't appear before the grand jury in May. Instead, Lawen Becote, a supervisor in her investigative unit, testified about the Easley audit.

The State Auditor's Office last year reviewed Mary Easley's international travel as first lady and deemed that she ran up "unreasonable and excessive expenses" on trips to France and to Estonia and Russia that she took with the state Department of Cultural Resources.

Among the expenses criticized in the audit were her stay at a five-star hotel in St. Petersburg, Russia, that cost close to $1,000 a night and 24-hour availability of private transportation in a Mercedes SUV over an eight-day period that cost more than $27,000.

69 Comments

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  • clregister Aug 20, 2009

    The Pubs are always honest and frugal with tax dollars. Don't I remember Jim Martin hiring Jimmy Green at some ridiculous amount for consulting? (not defending Mary Easley by any means, She must have crossed the aisle and given Sarah palin tips)

  • Jackson1 Aug 19, 2009

    Hoping they dig deep enough to find some wrongs on Perdue's part while she was under Easley. That would be tooooooo great.

  • Tax Man Aug 19, 2009

    Sure is taking a long time to put these Easleys behind bars! But, I hope the Federal and NC investigations do lead to a criminal prosecution and ultimately big time for these crooks! Mr Easley cost this state billions of dollars with his mishandling of cases as Attorney General and as a freespending Governor. His wife spent the taxpayers' money lavishly and cheated on the job market at NCSU. They are both absolutely crooked and criminal in their dealings with OUR money. Please let them stay in the fine accommodations at one of our State Prisons or a Federal Prison! Keep up the pressure as there are lots of these vermin to exterminate in our NC politics.

  • jet2rdu Aug 19, 2009

    More good news and bad news for the NC economy in 2009 thanks to our elected officials.

    First the good news. It looks like employment is growing for some professions in Raleigh.

    And now the bad news. It is for lawyers and their staff to represent elected and appointed Democrats.

  • Garnerwolf1 Aug 19, 2009

    Democrate?! Is that because it takes a crate to tote their carp?
    (and I did say in my original post, that such wasn't limited to Dems - it's just that in this state, they are the biggest abusers of the public trust)

  • Professor Aug 19, 2009

    don't think she ever has been.
    barnzez

    Thats because she is..........

  • barnzez Aug 19, 2009

    The Fox - Wood is her name, she's not married, don't think she ever has been.

  • Garnerwolf1 Aug 19, 2009

    People keep bashing the Dems. Why? You knew their true colors - the kind of carp they do, when you voted for them. It's certainly nothing new. Actually these type actions are not limited to Dems, but I truly don't understand how some can act surprised by any of this stuff.

  • Professor Aug 19, 2009

    They need to allow her to go home. What purpose would be served keeping her there?

  • Professor Aug 19, 2009

    I wonder how many lies she will tell to cover for Mary and her husband? Time will tell.

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