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Firms that backed Mary Easley program subpoenaed

Posted September 10, 2009
Updated September 11, 2009

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— A federal grand jury has subpoenaed at least two companies that provided financial support for a speaker series former first lady Mary Easley ran at North Carolina State University.

The grand jury is investigating former Gov. Mike Easley's dealings with friends and contributors while he was in office, including how Mary Easley obtained a high-paying job at N.C. State.

Progress Energy and the North Carolina Farm Bureau confirmed to WRAL News Thursday that they have received subpoenas in the investigation. Both firms said they are cooperating with federal authorities, who are seeking information about their donations to the Millennium Seminars program at N.C. State.

The university hired Mary Easley in 2005 as an executive-in-residence and senior lecturer to develop the Millennium Seminars speakers program and to teach two courses. Last year, she received a raise to $170,000 a year, a move that N.C. State officials defended at the time by saying she had taken on additional duties.

University of North Carolina system officials approved her raise last fall on the provision that she raise about a third of the annual salary from grants and private funds, including corporate donations.

Progress Energy gave $20,000 to the program, and the Farm Bureau provided $1,000 to help sponsor a speech by former President Bill Clinton.

Farm Bureau President Larry Wooten said he was shocked to receive the subpoena, saying there was no pressure to contribute to the series and there was nothing unusual about the company's sponsorship of the Clinton speech.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, which gave $40,000 to the Millennium Seminars program while Mary Easley was in charge, hasn't been subpoenaed, a spokesman said.

Citing state budget cuts to the programs she oversaw, N.C. State terminated Mary Easley's contract in June. She has appealed the termination.

In addition to Mary Easley's job, federal investigators are looking at Mike Easley's travel while he was governor, vehicles that car dealers provided to the family, a waterfront lot in Carteret County the Easleys purchased at a below-market price, the state's sale of a Southport marina to a group that included political contributors and Division of Motor Vehicles moves that might have benefited a political contributor.

The grand jury meets again next week.

12 Comments

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  • james27613 Sep 11, 2009

    Why should NCSU accept outside donations that will pay for
    Mrs. E salary ?

    This is an outrage.

  • SME2 Sep 11, 2009

    I just hope this all goes away eventually...one could only hope it does fall as fast as that lead ballon WRAL called "reporting" over the NC college sports coaches salaries.

  • HanginTough Sep 11, 2009

    Witch hunt? What makes it a witch hunt? It is more then obvious that the Easleys and most anyone high up in the NC State University systme...yes, they are coming after you too Erskine...it all ultimately was your responsibility right? You just didn't think a bunch of hicks in NC could figure out what you guys were up to. Not only did we figure it out but have got all of yall backed into a corner...resigning left and right, dumping computers, deleting emailm SHP in it up to their eyeball, Progress Energy....And dont you worry Bev - no way you could have not KNOWN what was going on...

  • NCAries Sep 11, 2009

    I feel sorry for their son...I hope they've at least told him what to expect from all of this.

  • 007KnightRider Sep 11, 2009

    Will it never end?

  • Here kitty kitty Sep 11, 2009

    The so-called witch-hunts need to be done. If we don't start sending more loud and clear messages as we did with Meg Scott Phipps, Jim Black, etc., more and more are going to get away with cr*p that I'd go to jail for. Keep going after them until they are either found guilty or cleared!

  • SME2 Sep 11, 2009

    Hooray! Waste more, more and more money on this witch hunt!

  • retired and luv it Sep 11, 2009

    Don t you just love these Easleys? What quality officials we continue to elect to fleece our pockets in the name of GOOD to hear them tell it. TERM LIMITS-Rand,Basnight, etc etc etc

  • mtadish Sep 11, 2009

    Seems like another case of wasted time and tax dollars, trying to appear as if they are doing something proactive. Makes you feel all warm inside, doesn't it. Honestly, it sounds pretty simple. State offered her a job and she took it. State shamed itself with her salary and to save face they fired her.

  • Here kitty kitty Sep 11, 2009

    Oh this just keeps getting more interesting all the time. How long before they reach the current governor? Stay tuned, folks!

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