Politics & Government

Mary Easley to appeal firing from N.C. State

RALEIGH — Former first lady Mary Easley's hiring left a trail of dethroned N.C. State officials, but she has notified the university that she doesn't plan to join them.

Easley indicated in a letter delivered to the university Monday that she will appeal her firing earlier this month. Her attorney, Marvin Schiller, declined to comment further.

In the letter, he wrote that Easley plans to file a formal grievance through NCSU related both to her termination and "with respect to any severance, notice or hearing which she may be due under NCSU's policies, regulations and rules."

NCSU did not offer Easley a severance package.

"Programs that Mrs. Easley was hired to administer or participate in are among those that are being eliminated or reduced – specifically the Center for Public Safety Leadership and the Millennium Seminar Series," said James Woodward, who became NCSU's interim chancellor after James Oblinger resigned over the Easley issue earlier this month. "With this substantial loss of job responsibilities and on the advice of the N.C. State Board of Trustees, I terminated Mrs. Easley's contract. Mrs. Easley may, of course, pursue whatever grievance process or legal action she now deems appropriate."

Easley had come under pressure last year when she was given a five-year, $850,000 contract to run a speakers series and create a public safety leadership center. But controversy then erupted amid disclosures about her job in The News & Observer's two-part series, "Executive Privilege." The newspaper's reporting showed that her job was pushed by her husband, former Gov. Mike Easley, and orchestrated at the highest levels of state government.

Though complimentary of Easley's abilities, NCSU and UNC system officials had urged her to resign from her post voluntarily, citing the distraction that her salary issue caused. In addition, Mike Easley is now the subject of a probe by federal investigators into several aspects of his time as governor, including a coastal land purchase in which he bought a lot at a favorable price and his family's use of vehicles from car dealers.

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