State News

Ex-Easley campaign manager at federal courthouse

Posted November 18, 2009 9:00 a.m. EST
Updated November 18, 2009 2:40 p.m. EST

— The man who guided former Gov. Mike Easley's two gubernatorial campaigns appeared at a federal courthouse Wednesday as a federal grand jury met to hear more testimony about the Democratic governor.

Jay Reiff arrived with attorney Michael Weisel shortly before 9 a.m. Neither would talk with reporters as they entered the courthouse.

The pair emerged from the courthouse nearly three hours later, and Weisel confirmed that Reiff testified to the grand jury and answered all questions put to him.

The grand jury has been meeting for months to look into the dealings Easley had with friends and contributors while in office.

The scope of the investigation includes Easley's travel aboard private planes, his wife's high-paying job at North Carolina State University, the couple's purchase of a waterfront lot in a Carteret County development at a below-market rate, the sale of a Southport marina to a group that included political contributors to Easley and state Division of Motor Vehicles decisions that might have benefited a political contributor.

The State Board of Elections tried to subpoena Reiff for an investigative hearing last month, but board Chairman Larry Leake said the state's subpoena couldn't compel him to testify because he was working outside of North Carolina at the time.

During one of the hearings last month, the election board presented documents identified as fundraising strategies written by then-Easley campaign officials suggesting that the Democratic Party begin handling some Easley-dedicated contributions.

A memo from Reiff from May 2000 said they could move "any or all expenditures" from the campaign to the party and pay for them with contributions to the party.

State law allows a donor to give unlimited money to a party, but only as much as $4,000 to an individual candidate per election.

Last week, subpoenas issued to the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources asked six current or former agency officials to appear Wednesday before the grand jury. The subpoenas asked whether the officials received gifts from developers of coastal projects, including the Carteret County development where the Easleys own land.