Former Easley campaign manager questioned

November 18, 2009 9:01:03 PM PST
The federal investigation of former governor Mike Easley kicked off in Raleigh Wednesday with testimony from Jay Reiff.The feds forced Easley's former campaign manager of his 2000 and 2004 governor's elections to testify before a federal grand jury.

"Mr. Reiff, in response to a subpoena, appeared before a grand jury," Reiff's attorney Michael Weisel said. "[He] fully and completely answered all their questions for several hours."

But his attorney did not explain what was said in the secret proceeding on Easley.

However based on a flurry of subpoenas issued last week from prosecutors, those closely following the probe believe the feds now suspect campaign donors with coastal real estate developments were given fast-track approval for environmental permits.

Last month, the state board of elections zeroed in on developer Gary Allen who gave $50,000 for two consecutive years to the Democratic Party.

"I suspect they asked Mr. Reiff about solicitation of moneys from Mr. Allen among others, $50,000 checks shouldn't grease a permitting process," political activist Joe Sinsheimer said.

Some of those coastal developers said there was no link between their donations and the business they had with the state.

Sinsheimer says Governor Bev Perdue should review environmental permits issued under Easley.

But Perdue is trying to stress her new administration is open to the public with all treated equally.

"My administration has been committed to absolute transparency and accountability," she said.

ABC11 Eyewitness News has learned the grand jury will meet again Thursday and Friday.

Employees from the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources are also scheduled to testify in the case.

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