Following up on my piece last month for AmSpec Online about the troubles of Mike Easley, the doo-doo is only getting deeper for the former North Carolina governor. As I wrote, the U.S. Attorney here in Raleigh has convened a grand jury to investigate charges of free plane trips, free vehicle use, a great land deal, plus a cushy, do-nothing job for Easley’s wife Mary at N.C. State. The chairman of the board of trustees and the provost at the university initially denied any special treatment for Mrs. Easley but later resigned after admitting they discussed the job for her, and now this morning the N.C. State chancellor has resigned after (almost) admitting he lied too.
But the biggest revelation that The News & Observer of Raleigh is reporting this morning is that Governor Easley himself was involved in the hiring of his wife.
Are we looking at another governor gone bad? Consider also this deeply buried nugget in this morning’s N&O story about Mrs. Easley’s job, in which part of her responsibilities was to entice big-name politicos for a speaker’s series at N.C. State:
Easley also got some speakers at a discount. (Former President) Clinton waived his typical fee, appearing this year in exchange for travel expenses and other costs that totaled more than $15,000. The Easleys campaigned for Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2008 election.
The story explains how Mrs. Easley had a very difficult time drawing big-names, and sometimes even resorted to the Washington Speakers Bureau to get them. As Jeff Taylor of the John Locke Foundation colorfully wonders (along with me) about the Clinton deal, did Gov. Easley “go all Blagojevich and sell his endorsement to Hillary Clinton?”
Update 3:55 p.m.: The governor’s wife has been fired by N.C. State.