Easley dictated slam on fired public information officer

Staff writerFebruary 4, 2010 


  • Hear then-Gov. Mike Easley talk with N&O editors and reporters about his administration and transparency.

The orders to delete e-mails were first made public in March 2008 by Debbie Crane, a former public information officer for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Easley ordered that Crane be fired following a series of stories in The N&O about his administration's mismanagement of the state's mental health system.

In response, Deputy Press Secretary Seth Effron, acting as Easley's spokesman, denied any e-mails were deleted and called Crane "dishonest, untruthful and insubordinate."

In her deposition this week, Communications Director Sherri Johnson said Effron's disparaging comments about Crane were actually dictated by Easley.

"The governor dictated it word for word and ordered that it be sent out. And Seth was the one who had to — to give it out," Johnson said. "Seth was the vehicle, but the governor is the one who — he was the mouthpiece, but he was...not the speaker."

Crane told Dome Wednesday she felt vindicated by testimony from Press Secretary Renee Hoffman, who said she was ordered to tell public information officers to delete e-mail messages.

"Being called a liar by Mike Easley is a badge of honor," she said.

Effron, for his part, said he had no reason to believe Crane was dishonest or untruthful.

Effron and Johnson are still public information officers in state government.

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