Indicted Businessman Bankrolled NC GOP Gubernatorial Front-Runner’s Groups

Republican candidate for Lt. Governor Dan Forest is greeted by a supporter as he watches election returns at Sparians, an entertainment complex in North Hills in Raleigh, North Carolina on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. Forest is running against Democrat Linda Coleman. (Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT)
Chris Seward/Tribune News Service

North Carolina businessman Greg Lindberg, who was indicted on multiple counts of campaign finance fraud and attempted bribery on Tuesday, has almost singlehandedly bankrolled a pair of groups closely aligned with the state’s Republican gubernatorial front-runner.

Lindberg made a $1 million donation in December 2017 to Truth & Prosperity, a super-PAC whose primary goal was to elect North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R) to office, according to state election records. From August through December of that year, Lindberg made more than $1.4 million in contributions to another outside group that Forest chairs called the NC Republican Council of State Committee.

Those latter donations were the vast majority of the organization’s entire budget.

Forest publicly boasted about the funds he’d raised for the pair of groups in a 2018 press release. All of those funds appear to have come from Lindberg.

There’s no evidence of wrongdoing by Forest, who is gearing up for a race against North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) and has been widely viewed as the GOP’s primary front-runner.

It’s unclear what exactly Forest’s relationship is with Lindberg, or why Lindberg would make such large contributions to the groups. The North Carolina lieutenant governor’s office is largely ceremonial with few actual powers.

It is clear the two men have some form of relationship, however. Forest was the guest of honor at Lindberg’s company’s North Carolina office groundbreaking, and posed for the picture below:

Greg Lindberg (center) poses with Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R )and others at a September 2017 ribbon cutting for the Global Bankers Insurance Group’s headquarters in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo Courtesy Global Bankers Insurance Group.)

“I know these men and consider most of them friends. I have read the indictments and they are very troubling. I believe in the presumption of innocence and thus will withhold judgement. But I agree with the rule of law and if laws were broken, then justice should be served. They are facing serious charges,” Forest said in a statement.

Forest campaign spokesman Hal Weatherman told TPM via email that Forest was never subpoenaed, interviewed or questioned by the FBI or any other investigators. He pointed out that Forest can’t coordinate with Truth and Prosperity, a group that functions much like federal super PACs. When asked if the organization would return Lindberg’s substantial donation, he said that the NC Republican Council of State Committee’s board hasn’t met to discuss the matter. He described any conversations the two men had as “small talk” and insisted that Lindberg had never asked Forest for any political favors.

Alfredo Rodriguez, who ran the Truth and Prosperity organization during Forest’s 2016 election, told TPM via direct message that he’s no longer with the group and said he can’t comment on its activities, though he didn’t respond to a question of when he’d departed.

Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), a member of House GOP leadership, has also been caught up in the scandal.

Lindberg burst onto the North Carolina political scene in 2017 with a $500,000 contribution to the state Republican Party. The indictment he’s facing involves roughly $1.5 million more given to or meant for North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey (R), who Lindberg pushed to fire a deputy who oversaw Lindberg’s business interests in exchange for huge donations he’d give to a pro-Causey super PAC and funnel to Causey through the state Republican Party. He has since given to various lawmakers and organizations in both parties including Causey’s Democratic predecessor, though his donations have leaned heavily towards the GOP. He was the state GOP’s largest contributor in 2017.

This story was updated at 6:45 p.m. to include Weatherman’s post-publication  responses to questions.

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