Local Politics

Records lawsuit reveals Easley's secret e-mail account

Posted February 3, 2010

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— Former Gov. Mike Easley sometimes used a secret e-mail account to conduct state business, according to a longtime staffer who testified as part of a public records lawsuit.

By law, e-mails about public business are supposed to be public record. Several media outlets sued in 2008 over access to e-mails to and from Easley's office after some state workers claimed that staffers were told to routinely delete sensitive e-mail.

In her deposition in the lawsuit, Sherri Johnson, who served as Easley's communications director, told media attorneys that the former governor used a private e-mail account to conduct some state business and that only a few top staffers could access it.

The Carolina Journal supplied WRAL News with a copy of Johnson's deposition. The newspaper, which is one of the media outlets participating in the suit, is part of the conservative John Locke Foundation.

Johnson testified that Easley's e-mail account was under the name "Nick Danger" spelled backwards.

Nick Danger was a detective character created by a 1970s comedy troupe. Johnson said it was spelled backwards because of Easley's dyslexia.

The account never turned up in previous public records requests for e-mails to and from the governor's office.

Johnson denied that she instructed staffers to routinely delete e-mails, but she confirmed that Easley's legal counsel, Reuben Young, who now heads the state Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, advised staff to use phone calls instead of e-mail for sensitive information.

Easley also faces state and federal criminal investigations into his dealings with friends and contributors while in office.

A federal grand jury last month indicted former Easley aide Ruffin Poole on extortion, bribery, racketeering, mail fraud and money laundering charges. The indictment alleged that Poole accepted gifts and invested in coastal real estate from Easley donors while shepherding their projects through regulatory approvals.


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  • CSA.lifer. Feb 4, 2010

    I voted for him...was I wrong?.......my bag........:(

  • gpcherokee Feb 4, 2010

    Who cares?

  • wildcat Feb 4, 2010

    Nothing is secret any more.

  • Sir Freezy McQuackers Feb 4, 2010

    "Neither Gerald Ford nor Richard Nixon were corrupt."

    This might be the funniest comment I've seen all day, and I've seen some doozies.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Feb 4, 2010

    Palin did the same thing and when it was broadcast by media, she and her supporters just played the martyr card. "Wah...I'm so victimized by the media...WAH!"

    And, I remember her golo defenders asking "Why do you hate Palin so much?" LOL

  • jet2rdu Feb 4, 2010

    Perhaps it is time for Governor Perdue to apply for stimulus money for needed NC road improvements. It should be used for widening I-85 from I-40 to Butner NC. It sure looks like there will be a lot more traffic between Raleigh and Butner coming soon.

    There is a nice location in Butner that can be used for the ribbon cutting ceremony where many NC officials and former officials can attend.

  • concerncitizen Feb 4, 2010

    I remember Richard Nixon boarding that plane so many years ago. He looked demoralized, as he should. He had betrayed us, but worst, he had betrayed his children and wife. When you come to the point that not even the lost of respect of your children will stop you! You're truly a lost soul! I don't know who or where it started but our public officials have become soul less people, willing to do just about anything for power. They can't even bring themselves to look sorry, or concerned. Can you imagine even thinking as a public servant, that a private e-mail account would be the honest thing to do......, first day at work and you're corrupted by power? No! You knew if you got elected, it would be business as usual! Whistle blower, you don't have to be, but quit! Why corrupt your own morals by continuing to work under a person like him? Do you really want a job that bad? What must your family think of you now?

  • waterwarrior8 Feb 4, 2010

    This is our generation's modern day version of Watergate. Which actually ties to Sewergate (the hijacking of taxpayer $$ to fund infrastructure for big developers standing in line for rewards in exchange for hefty campaign contributions, resulting in toxic water and toxic assets).

    Missing/deleted emails? How 'bout missing public documents?! Fortunately the powers-that-be were afflicted w/ the Edwards syndrome of 'I'm above the law, I'm invisible' & felt confident enough to continue operating outside of the law & ethics, allowing smart folks to gather certain public docs before they went MIA. And that's how the Gangster Govmt House of Culture of Corruption Cards started disintegrating. They've brought this all upon themselves.

    Dale Swiggett
    Waterfront Sportsman & the Environmental Investigation Coalition

  • Jay4 Feb 4, 2010

    jrfergerson - Sorry don't know about THAT particular piece of Dem party corruption - if that's what it is.

    The thing is...NC has become the joke of the South. We have become the most corrupt state in the South and one of the most corrupt states in the nation - politically speaking.

    Why? Because the Democrats have had total power for so long - aided and abetted by their "friends" in the media such as the News and Disturber and, yes, our beloved WRAL.

    It's got to stop! Our state government needs a total cleaning out from top to bottom.

    I know that seems like a dream - but it can happen, step by small step.

    Am grateful for all those working to make it so. And would love for WRAL to 'see the light' and stop helping the corrupt ones continue in power.

  • Jay4 Feb 4, 2010

    snshine62d - "Now that your done with your speech" should be "Now that YOU'RE done with your speech". And, no, I am not done.

    For instance, WRAL - where is the headline here on your News website about the soaring unemployment rolls - news this morning - already reported by AP - via Yahoo News: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100204/ap_on_bi_go_ec_fi/us_jobless_claims

    Maybe North Carolinians would like to know that jobless claims rose by more than 20,000 MORE than was expected last week?

    Maybe North Carolinians need to know that the economy is not getting better - it is getting much much worse very fast thanks to the CORRUPT and CRIMINAL (like Easley, etc, in NC) Leadership in the White House and in Congress!!!