Monday, January 18, 2021

North Carolina GOP chairman steps down after federal bribery, fraud charges

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The chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party is stepping down from his post after he was charged on federal bribery and wire fraud counts.

The state GOP said Wednesday that Chairman Robin Hayes would cede control to a regional party leader, but would keep the title of chairman until a new election for the post in June.

Hayes, who served from 1999 to 2009 in Congress, and Greg Lindberg, the founder and chairman of Eli Global LLC and owner of Global Bankers Insurance Group, were among four people charged in the federal indictments unsealed on Tuesday.

Hayes, Lindberg and his two associates are accused of trying to sway an insurance regulator’s decisions in favor of the donor’s insurance companies. Federal prosecutors said that the four individuals promised or gave Republican Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey millions of campaign dollars to do things Lindberg wanted, including seeking the removal of a deputy insurance commissioner responsible for oversight of one of Lindberg’s businesses.

Hayes also was charged with three counts of making false statements to the FBI.

FBI agents interviewed Hayes in August 2018 about his involvement with and knowledge of the alleged misconduct and alleged improper campaign contributions. During that interview, Hayes allegedly lied to FBI agents about directing funds at Lindberg’s request, among other things.

A lawyer for Hayes reportedly said his client “steadfastly” denies the allegations.

“Greg Lindberg is innocent of the charges in the indictment and we look forward to demonstrating this when we get our day in court,” Lindberg’s attorney Anne Tompkins also told Fox News.

“The indictment unsealed today outlines 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,” Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski said in a statement. “Bribery of public officials at any level of government undermines confidence in our political system.  The Criminal Division will use all the tools at our disposal—including the assistance of law-abiding public officials—to relentlessly investigate and prosecute corruption wherever we find it.”

The indictment amounted to the latest political scandal to rock the state. Earlier this year, an operative allegedly at the center of a ballot fraud scandal was indicted for illegal possession of absentee ballots and obstruction of justice.

This was after the North Carolina State Board of Election decided to call a new election in the 9th congressional district because of questions surrounding the legitimacy of the victory claimed by Republican Mark Harris, who had hired the later-indicted operative.

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