A federal grand jury indicted the chairman of the North Carolina republican party for bribery and lying to the FBI.
From WBTV in Charlotte:
NCGOP Chairman Robin Hayes, who spent a decade in Congress representing a district that stretched from the Charlotte area to Fayetteville, surrendered himself to authorities and made a first appearance at the US Courthouse in Charlotte on Tuesday.
An indictment unsealed in court on Tuesday morning accused Hayes, Durham-based business owner Greg Lindbergh and two of Lindbergh’s associates of directing illegal political donations to North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey in an effort to bribe him.
Causey, who was actually working with federal authorities, is not charged in the indictments.
All four men appeared before a federal judge on Tuesday and pleaded not guilty. Each man turned himself in to the FBI prior to Tuesday’s hearing and was released on a $100,000 unsecured bond.
Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey says he cannot discuss details of the case because it's an ongoing federal investigation.
"I just look at it as doing my job," he said on WWNC yesterday. "When I was elected, I put my hand on the Bible and raised my right hand, and I took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of North Carolina - as well as the Constitution of the United States. Just like I did when I was in the Army and served as a military policeman."
You can hear the entire interview here:
Businessman Greg Lindberg first offered about $10,000 in donations to Causey in 2017, but Causey returned the money.
"When I found out about it, I told my campaign treasurer that we need to return this money," Causey said. "Not because there was anything illegal about it, it's just we were engaged in financial examinations of the companies... and I didn't want anybody in the company, the owners, or myself to look bad. When things don't look right, you say 'This doesn't seem right, so let's send it back.'"
He added, "For me it did [raise ethical concerns]. It's just something that I didn't feel comfortable with, and I didn't want any questions to be raised later, so we decided to take the cautious approach and send it back."
After this occurred, according to the indictment, Lindberg and his associates tried to get Causey to fire or reassign one of his Senior Deputy Commissioners regulating oversight of Lindberg's company. The FBI says the NC GOP Chairman was brought into the scheme to help facilitate a deal.
Obviously, Lindberg was willing to spend millions of dollars trying to oust a Senior Deputy Commissioner from her post - because he thought he'd get a more-compliant replacement.
Which raises questions about whether Lindberg had tried (or done) anything similar under the previous Insurance Commissioner - Wayne Goodwin.
Check out this report from October on WBTV:
Wayne Goodwin, the former North Carolina Insurance Commissioner and current North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman, has worked for the major political donor who is currently under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The FBI is investigating Greg Lindberg, a Durham businessman, for felony crimes related to drug crimes, crimes against financial institutions or money laundering, according to a federal grand jury subpoena issued to the North Carolina Department of Insurance.
Part of Goodwin’s work since leaving the Department of Insurance has involved representing Lindberg and his insurance company at national industry events, including those held by groups like the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, according to a person with knowledge of Lindberg’s political operations, who asked not to be identified in order to discuss internal business arrangements.
In response to questions from WBTV about his work for Lindberg, Goodwin declined to comment but did not dispute that he has worked for Lindberg.
In addition to Goodwin, at least one other former senior official from the North Carolina Department of Insurance also works for Lindberg.
Ray Martinez, who served as a Senior Deputy Commissioner of Insurance under Goodwin, joined Lindberg’s company Global Banker’s Insurance Group as a board member in February 2017, according to his LinkedIn profile.
As for Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey, he says he's at ease with the role he played in busting the bribery scheme - even though it led to indictment against his own party's chairman: "I never had any doubts or second guesses because you just do the best you can with the facts you have in front of you"