Local News

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

Posted March 4, 2008 6:59 p.m. EST
Updated March 5, 2008 5:47 p.m. EST

— 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.