Former N.C. Gov. Easley got $50,000 benefit at golf club

The leaders of an exclusive golf club waived monthly membership dues for former Gov. Mike Easley while he was in office, granting the Democratic governor a $50,000 benefit over eight years that he did not disclose.

Members at the private Old Chatham Golf Club near Research Triangle Park include many prominent business and political figures, some of whom Easley appointed to high-level positions during his two terms as governor.

The club's president confirmed in an interview that Easley's dues were waived.

The Old Chatham deal adds to questions about benefits the former governor accepted while in office. State and federal authorities have been investigating reports related to Easley and free flights, his family's use of cars and the purchase of a coastal lot at a favorable price, as well as records that show the governor was involved in the creation of a job for his wife at N.C. State University.

Easley was asked in ethics disclosure forms for most of his time in office, though not all of it, to list gifts he had received that were valued at more than $200. He did not list any.

A spokesman and a lawyer for Easley said Easley followed the rules about disclosure statements.

The lawyer, Wade Byrd of Fayetteville, said Easley had complied with disclosures required under the state's new ethics law. It took effect in 2007.

"Gift disclosures are only required when they originate from a lobbyist [or] their principal or those doing business with the state," Byrd wrote in a letter to The News & Observer. "Former Governor Easley has fully complied with the law in this regard and all other regards."

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