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Hiring of Mary Easley goes before federal grand jury

A federal grand jury in Raleigh will hear testimony today about former first lady Mary Easley's employment at North Carolina State University. Laura Leslie of North Carolina Public Radio reports. NCSU officials will testify about why Mary Easley was hired and promoted at the school. There's also some question about how she was paid. As part of her job, Easley raised about $200,000 for her program from foundations and corporations. Some, like Blue Cross Blue Shield and Progress Energy, had issues pending before the state. Both companies say their donations did not pay Easley's salary. But Bob Hall with Democracy NC says it may not matter. "There's a problem of the sensitivity to how these things look to the public -- to have people who are being asked for money who are then turning around and asking for favors from your husband. That's just a very clear example of a situation you don't want to get yourself in." The grand jury is also investigating former Governor Mike Easley's campaign records. A friend who gave Easley free air travel has also admitted a role in the first lady's hiring. Meanwhile, Mary Easley's attorney has scheduled a press conference for 11 a.m. today to discuss her employments with NC State.