State News

Money removed for seminars run by Mary Easley

Posted June 4, 2009 5:35 p.m. EDT
Updated June 4, 2009 6:37 p.m. EDT

— A House budget subcommittee agreed Thursday to end state funding for a speakers' series at North Carolina State University run by former first lady Mary Easley.

The amendment by Rep. Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke, was narrowly approved. It would prevent N.C. State from spending state funds for the project through mid-2011.

The university was expected to spend $105,000 on the Millennium Seminars program this fiscal year.

The amendment wouldn't eliminate Easley's $170,000-a-year position at the school.

N.C. State Chancellor James Oblinger, University of North Carolina President Erskine Bowles and other officials have called on Easley to resign after questions were raised about how she was hired in 2005.

A federal grand jury has subpoenaed her personnel records and any records the State Auditor's Office might have from any investigation into her hiring or the N.C. State provost's office.

Provost Larry Nielsen and McQueen Campbell, the chairman of the university's Board of Trustees, both resigned last month amid questions about Easley's hiring and promotion. Both men denied any wrongdoing, although Campbell admitted telling Oblinger in 2005 that she was looking for a job.

Campbell was a close friend of former Gov. Mike Easley, who twice appointed him to the N.C. State board. The News & Observer newspaper has reported that Campbell flew the former governor in his private plane, but the flights weren't disclosed on campaign finance reports.

The federal grand jury has subpoenaed Mike Easley's travel records while in office and is looking into other dealings he had with friends and contributors.

The full House budget is expected to come up for a vote next week.