The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services' public affairs director, who was fired Tuesday, said that Gov. Mike Easley's press office instructed the chief spokesmen for executive branch agencies to destroy e-mail correspondence to his office.
"The governor's office, press office, to bypass the public records laws, they ask the second you e-mail them anything, to kill it, then kill it again out of your trash so it doesn't exist," said Debbie Crane. "That's what they tell all the public affairs people, that they don't want to create any public records."
Seth Effron, a spokesman for Easley, denied Crane's allegation.
"This office has never told anybody to destroy any public record," Effron said. He also said that Crane had been "dishonest, untruthful and insubordinate," and had hindered reporters from getting information from the department. He declined to elaborate.
Crane, a public information officer for 18 years, was fired amid the fallout from a News & Observer investigation of the state's mental-health system. Her contention, if true, shows a violation of the state's public records law, said Amanda Martin, an attorney for the N.C. Press Association and The News & Observer.