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Former Rep. Robin Hayes indicted in North Carolina political money scandal

Federal prosecutors have charged Hayes, chairman of the state’s Republican party, and three others, including big donor Greg Lindberg, founder and chairman of Eli Global, in connection with an effort to bribe the state insurance commissioner with campaign donations, according to a federal indictment unsealed Tuesday. Also watch: Lindsey Graham calls for a special counsel investigation on ‘the other side of the story’ following Mueller report spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreen ??volume mmute ??seek . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% Adding intrigue on Capitol Hill, the indictment references a “Public Official A,” who allegedly met with those charged. The indictment offers a clue about that official’s identity, saying that on or about Feb. 5, 2018, Lindberg made a $150,000 contribution to a political committee supporting Public Official A. Lindberg made a $150,000 donation, dated Feb. 17, 2018, to the Mark Walker Victory Committee, a joint fundraising committee, according to Federal Election Commission records. State campaign finance donation records do not show any $150,000 donations from Lindberg in the first quarter of 2018. Want insight more often? Get Roll Call in your inbox The indictment also named Lindberg and two of his business associates, John Gray and John Palermo Jr. Lindberg has been under federal investigation for alleged financial crimes and for his contributions to North Carolina politicians. According to the filing, the four offered campaign donations in exchange for “specific official action favorable to GBIG, including the removal of the Senior Deputy Commissioner of the NCDOI responsible for overseeing the regulation.” The indictment also says that on or about Feb. 7, 2018, Public Official A called a state insurance commissioner “to explain that LINDBERG was doing good things for North Carolina business.” The indictment added that on Feb. 12, 2018, Palermo sent an email to Lindberg and Gray, “stating, ‘Just between the 3 of us. I was also told that the $150K will be going to [Public Official A].’” The indictment further alleges that Palermo reported having lunch with Public Official A in July 2018 and that he “took the opportunity to talk to him about our issue” with the North Carolina Department of Insurance, adding that he expected Public Official A to reach out to the commissioner over the weekend. Anne Tompkins, an attorney for Lindberg, said her client was “innocent of the charges in the indictment.” “We look forward to demonstrating this when we get our day in court,” she said in an emailed statement.

NCGOP Chairman Robin Hayes, campaign donor indicted on corruption and bribery charges

By A federal grand jury has indicted North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes and a major GOP campaign donor on conspiracy and bribery charges for their attempts to influence N.C. Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey. That was in 2017, according to the indictment. In August 2017, the indictment says Hayes texted Causey and suggested “I think u should consider a face to face (with Lindberg).” In November 2017, Gray told Causey that Lindberg had contributed $500,000 to the NC GOP and earmarked $110,000 for Causey’s campaign, according to the indictment. Lindberg and Gray suggested that Causey hire Palermo to replace or supervise the senior deputy commissioner, the indictment says In a March 5 meeting in Statesville, Causey confirmed his ability to hire Palermo. During that meeting, Lindberg told Causey that he’d support him with up to $2 million in campaign contributions, according to the indictment. Palermo then quoted “Public Official A,” saying that Causey “needs to man-up and do what he agreed to.” The indictment says the public official then contacted Causey and said Lindberg, Gray and Palermo “seemed anxious to find out” if Causey had made staffing changes. The indictment says FBI agents interviewed Hayes in August 2018 and specifically asked whether Hayes was aware of “expectations” Lindberg might have had for a $500,000 donation he made to the party. “Thanks to the voluntary reporting of the North Carolina Commissioner of Insurance, we have uncovered an alleged scheme to violate our federal public corruption laws,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray said in a news release Tuesday. We will work with our law enforcement partners to investigate allegations of public corruption, safeguard the integrity of the democratic process, and prosecute those who compromise it.” Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski referred to the group’s alleged actions as “a brazen bribery scheme in which Greg Lindberg and his coconspirators allegedly offered hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions in exchange for official action that would benefit Lindberg’s business interests.” Lindberg donations Lindberg was the biggest political donor in North Carolina over the last few years, the News & Observer has previously reported. Bob Hall, the former head of government watchdog group Democracy NC, told the News & Observer he has identified roughly $5.5 million in political contributions from Lindberg to North Carolina politicians, political parties and Super PACs since 2016, and another $500,000 from Lindberg’s businesses and employees.

NC GOP chairman, major political donor indicted in alleged bribery scheme

They're all accused of trying to bribe state Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey, who got in touch with federal investigators and recorded conversations quoted in the indictment. Lindberg has given more than $5 million to North Carolina political campaigns over the last few years, including more than $1.49 million to the state Republican Party. The state party turned around and gave $250,000 of that to Causey's campaign, and the indictment alleges this was an attempt to get around state political giving rules, which allow unlimited donations to parties but cap individual campaign donations at $5,400. The day after Causey agreed to switch out regulators at the department as Lindberg had requested, Hayes emailed the state party's treasurer requesting an initial wire transfer to Causey's campaign, the indictment states. The indictment also references an unidentified "Public Official A" that Gray and Lindberg discussed via text message and who called Causey to "explain that Lindberg was doing good things for North Carolina business" two days after Lindberg made a $150,000 contribution on Feb. 5, 2018, to a committee supporting the official. Dan Forest's largest donor, having given more than $2 million to political committees supporting him. Before the meeting, Gray allegedly told Causey that he and Lindberg would enter through a different door "so that nobody would see them together." Gray allegedly told Causey that, if the deputy commissioner causing Lindberg problems wasn't fired, he should "set it so that ... she doesn't breathe a word outside that office, or send a slip of paper outside that office, that is not reviewed first by John (Palermo)," the indictment states. The DOJ's Public Integrity Section and U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte are prosecuting the case. "The party has been cooperating with the investigation for several months, including staff members providing statements and responding to various document requests," Howard said in the statement.

Mark Harris says he won’t run 9th District election, throwing primary wide open

Citing health concerns, Republican Mark Harris said Tuesday that he won’t run in a new election for the 9th Congressional District. His announcement came five days after the State Board of Elections concluded a hearing into allegations of election fraud in the 9th District by calling for a new election. He hired a chief of staff and was assigned an office on Capitol Hill. Though Harris endorsed Republican Stony Rushing, a Union County commissioner, for the congressional seat Tuesday, his withdrawal opens the door to other Republicans. Mathew Ridenhour, a former Mecklenburg commissioner, said he’ll decide by next week. “General election candidates are chosen by the voters,” he said. During last week’s hearing, witnesses testified that Dowless illegally collected absentee ballots in 2018. First elected in 2002 as a Union County commissioner, Rushing served until 2006, then was elected again eight years later. ‘Stolen’ election Harris ended his time on the witness stand last week by saying that a new election should be called because of the evidence about corruption presented. But in the wake of the hearing, both parties accused the other of trying to steal the election.