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Suit over Easley ads returns to court

on 5/23/01.

A lawsuit over the controversial public service announcements Gov. Mike Easley aired as attorney general was back in court Tuesday as lawyers argued over whether it should go forward.

A lawyer for Chuck Fuller, vice president for public affairs of N.C. Citizens for a Sound Economy, argued to the state Court of Appeals that a judge's order last year dismissing the group's suit against Easley failed to give a specific reason why the suit was being tossed out.

The group argued in its lawsuit that Easley had misspent money on public service announcements about scams and other consumer fraud. The money for the ads came from state consumer lawsuit settlements that should have gone to public schools, the lawsuit said. The suit said Easley should have reported the announcements as campaign spending that boosted Easley's public profile. A trial judge dismissed the suit before any investigation or a trial began.

Lawyers from the attorney general's office argued to the appeals court that the dismissal was proper, that Easley did not misspend the funds and that he did not have to report the ads as campaign expenditures because they were merely efforts to raise public awareness of scams and other consumer fraud.