Ex-N.C. Gov. Easley got deal on coastal property

Gov. Mike Easley and his wife, Mary, accepted a $137,000 discount on a coastal waterfront lot they bought in 2005, months after Easley's administration granted environmental permits to the developer of the Carteret County subdivision.

Easley did not report the 25 percent price break from R.A. North Development, on his state ethics disclosure forms; and his closing attorney, the mayor of Beaufort, did not report the discounted price on the deed registered with the county. It was recorded at the original sales price of $549,880.

The closing documents, obtained by The News & Observer, contradict what Easley's representatives have said for years. In 2006, while Easley was still in office, his spokeswoman Cari Boyce said the Easleys didn't get a special deal. "The governor paid the listed asking price for the lot," she said at the time. "The price was set and non-negotiable."

This spring, McQueen Campbell, a key Easley ally who represented the Easleys in the real estate deal, told The N&O that Easley paid the listed price.

For months, The N&O had sought the closing documents from Easley, a Democrat who left office in January. He declined to release them.

Easley could not be reached for comment. His lawyer, Wade Byrd of Fayetteville, did not respond to questions about the deal. Byrd said in a letter that the closing documents were confidential and threatened legal action against the newspaper.

Ace Smith, a San Francisco political consultant and spokesman for the Easleys, said the transaction was not unusual and it would be "ridiculous" to suggest the discount from the developer was a gift. "He was assured he received the same offer as everyone else," Smith said.

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