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Governor's Office: Fired Spokeswoman's Claims 'Not True'

Posted March 4, 2008
Updated March 5, 2008

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— The state Department of Health and Human Services' longtime spokeswoman said she was fired Tuesday as part of a fallout from a five-part investigative report from "The News & Observer."

That's not true, according to the Governor's Press Office.

“Debbie Crane was fired by the Department of Health and Human Services because she was dishonest, untruthful and insubordinate," Gov. Mike Easley's spokesman, Seth Effron said. "She openly and covertly encouraged employees and former employees not to cooperate with the press.”

Crane, who spent 18 years with the department, said her dismissal is rooted in Easley's claim that his administration "vigorously" opposed some of the state's mental health care reforms in 2001.

Crane said the agency only worked out a few minor issues in the reform bill and never made a concerted effort to oppose it. Glowing details of the reform plan, dubbed a "Blueprint for Change," are still posted on the agency's Web site.

"I have no idea why he keeps rewriting history," Crane said. "His concern is: don't blame Mike Easley for mental health reform."

Effron said former DHHS Secretary Carmen Hooker Odom initially told an Easley adviser that she was willing to describe her initial opposition to the bill to the newspaper, but then declined on Crane's advice.

"Our concern was that Debbie's actions were contrary to efforts to provide access to the media," Effron told The Associated Press.

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  • beachboater Mar 5, 2008

    Easley hasn't done anything.......nothing. :-)

  • Stevesteve Mar 5, 2008

    I used to work with Debbie Crane, and I take issue with Seth Effron's statement that Debbie "was dishonest, untruthful and insubordinate," Dishonest? NO! Untruthful? NO! Insubordinate? Probably, and that's most likely the REAL reason she got fired. They needed someone to blame so they shot the messenger. What most people don't understand is that most professional communications between state employees and the media have to first be cleared through a Departmental spokesperson.

    If it's a case of whistle blowing, o.k., that's different. But, if everything is above-board, interviews have to be cleared with the public relations office. We all know that the Almighty N&O loves to go on fishing trips, and this time they happened to catch something. Often, they do little more than trash someone's name through innuendo and move on to the next story (i.e., victim). It's too bad that Debbie Crane had to be the unfortunate by-catch in this N&O fishing expedition.

  • Stormy13 Mar 5, 2008

    The question here is not whether Easley is an honest governor or not, the question is has and is he the best governor? Lets see a show of hands, didn't think he was either! If everyone is so unhappy with him then WHO voted him into office, certainly not me!

  • Adelinthe Mar 5, 2008

    Easley is the most honest governor we've had in 20 years; if compared to Hunt, He'd be an angel.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • robertosherwood Mar 5, 2008

    Easley is a horrible governor, and can't even accept his own failures like a man. We need a Republican in here next year. They couldn't possibly do worse.

  • nic Mar 5, 2008

    Easley needs a scapegoat. He can't take the blame of course even though he signed it into law. Let's stop blaming/firing and forcing retirement and start fixing the problem. First step keep Dix open until they can come up with a better plan. Closing the hopsital at this point will only cause further problems.

  • Scubagirl Mar 5, 2008

    what else would the office say?

  • WHEEL Mar 5, 2008

    I am so releived that Easley's office has cleared up this mess just like they have handled the mental health problems, the DOT, the DMV, the Highway Patrol, the Lottery and all of the other things that N C runs so well.