Local News

Former Mary Easley fundraiser testifies to grand jury

Posted September 17, 2009 7:09 p.m. EDT

— A woman who helped the wife of former Gov. Mike Easley raise money for a North Carolina State University speakers program testified Thursday to a federal grand jury.

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

Wendy Brown was a development officer who helped raise money from corporations and other private sources for the university's Millennium Seminars program, which was run by Mary Easley.

Part of the donated money went to pay for Mary Easley's salary, which has raised questions about potential conflicts of interest.

A July subpoena sought information about Brown's employment and termination. She was laid off in March.

Mary Easley's five-year contract with N.C. State was terminated in June, with officials citing state budget cuts as the reason.

Questions about her 2005 hiring and a promotion last year that included an 88 percent raise have led to the resignations of three high-ranking N.C. State officials since May. All three have denied any wrongdoing.

The grand jury also is investigating Mike Easley's travel with in office, vehicles that car dealers provided to the family and the Easleys' purchase of a waterfront lot in Carteret County at a below-market price.