Mike Easley's former communications director dropped a bombshell on Tuesday--her boss conducted state business on a secret email account.
Easley's former communications director Sherri Johnson testified in a deposition that Easley kept the secret account and used it for state business. Johnson was being deposed as part of a public records lawsuit filed by The N&O, The Charlotte Observer, The John Locke Foundation and several other news media outlets over access to e-mail messages.
The news organizations sued after some public information officers in state government said Easley's administration routinely deleted e-mail communication and advised other state public information officers to do the same. The state's public records law says that e-mail messages are public records no different than other state documents.
According to Johnson, the email account was under the name "Nick Danger," written backwards because Easley had a habit of writing backwards. Nick Danger, for those who don't know, is a character from a 1960s comedy troupe.
No messages from that account ever turned up in numerous public records requests filed over Easley's two terms as governor. To my mind, this makes it a near certainty that this suit will go forward.
Johnson also testified that Easley's legal counsel routinely advised officials to discuss sensitive issues on the phone--another attempt to skirt the public records law.
If there's anything at all to this, Easley looks almost as secretive as Sarah Palin was while governor of Alaska. For those who don't recall, the Diva routinely conducted state business via private email.