Politics & Government

Records indicate N. Carolina's Easley involved in wife's hiring

New documents show that the Mary Easley job at North Carolina State University was orchestrated at the highest levels of state government, and included the direct involvement of then-Gov. Mike Easley.

E-mail messages show the creation of the job for Mary Easley was orchestrated in April and May of 2005 by the governor and that her job formation also included his wife, Mary; the chancellor at N.C. State, James Oblinger; a key trustee, McQueen Campbell; a senior adviser to Easley who now heads the Golden Leaf Foundation, Dan Gerlach; and an NCSU lobbyist at the time, Andy Willis.

Until now, officials have all denied any involvement in the hiring other than by former Provost Larry Nielsen, who the records show was also involved in creating the position that gave Mary Easley an $80,000, three-year contract to oversee a speakers series and help teach a class.

The emails indicate that Gerlach, a key aide to the governor, was involved in making the first contacts on behalf of the Easleys and it was done in quiet – "people up the food chain don't know," he wrote.

Campbell and Gerlach then exchange e-mail messages about possibilities.

Campbell forwards the exchange to Willis.

Gerlach writes to Campbell on April 27, 2005: "Did you get what you needed?" under a subject heading of possible classes for Mary Easley to teach.

Campbell replies: "I did. Thanks for your help and I will keep you posted!"

That same day, Oblinger then writes to McQueen Campbell, saying it is obvious that she would be wanted on campus. "My question to her is money related in that they (in poly sci) are very much into the pay-by-the-course mode vs. contract. Any sense as to the importance of a contract to the first lady?"

Campbell, who was close to Gov. Easley, writes to Oblinger: "I think that is more what he had in mind to try and get her at least where she is now. I can speak more in person later."

To read the complete article, visit www.newsobserver.com.

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