Five Revelations Show The Extent Of The Rot In The NC GOP Bribery Scandal

Hayes R.2(DG)091200 -- Robin Hayes, R-N.C., during the press conference to announce support by a new coalition of businesses and organizations for the proposed Broadband Internet Access Act of 2000.
Douglas Graham/CQ-Roll Call Group

Since last week’s bombshell indictment dropped implicating North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes and businessman Greg Lindberg in a sprawling bribery scheme, more details have come to light, revealing the depth of the rot. 

Here’s what we know so far. Lindberg and Hayes were indicted on myriad charges, including bribery, by a federal prosecutor as part of an ongoing probe. Hayes was also smacked with three counts of lying to the FBI.

They were caught trying to bribe Insurance Commissioner Mark Causey with more than $1 million dollars in campaign contributions in exchange for him getting rid of a senior deputy official in charge of regulating Lindberg’s businesses and sticking a Lindberg staffer in his place.

The indictment papers say that Hayes aided and abetted Lindberg in his scheme; Hayes denies wrongdoing. Around the same time, Hayes said that he’d step down from his position in June due a recent hip surgery.

Here are five new revelations to get caught up on:

1) NC GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse may be concerned about his job

Hayes may not be the only party leader to fall under the hatchet as a result of the indictment. Prominent members of the state party met Sunday to discuss possibly replacing Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse, who has been at the helm of the party during this particularly tumultuous time.

Per the Raleigh News & Observer, Woodhouse was not named in the indictment but said that he was a witness and testified before the grand jury. He said that he’s never met Lindberg and has “nothing to resign for.”

No matter how the discussion went yesterday, the central committee of the state party can’t take action yet, due to internal rules about adequate notice. They do, however, have a meeting scheduled on April 14, far enough away that they could vote to boot Woodhouse then if they wanted.

Woodhouse has been a Republican pitbull since he got the job in October 2015, most recently originally being one of the loudest voices calling for Republican Mark Harris’ immediate certification in his congressional race, despite indications (later proven) that absentee ballot fraud had tainted the election. 

2) Lindberg has previously lobbied for legislative changes that would deregulate his company

Lindberg has long operated at the marriage of his business and political interests, as is made clear in the lobbying attempts of his associates last year.

According to a WRAL report, lobbyist Rod Perkins tried to sell a legislative package to the state Senate that would relax regulations about how insurance companies like Lindberg’s could invest their money. Sources told WRAL that some minor bits of the package were approved and passed by the General Assembly, but that the bulk of the proposal was dead on arrival.

The lobbying effort came soon after Lindberg gave $290,000 to a House Republican Caucus fund and made an unsuccessful effort to ply Senate Republicans with a similar amount. His donation was declined after the unusually large sum set off alarm bells for fundraising operatives: “You can count on two hands the number of people in North Carolina who could and would [write such large checks]” a source told WRAL. “It was new people … and it just didn’t feel right.”

3) Lindberg used to be a staple in the day-to-day operations of his business — that all ended about a year ago

Lindberg reportedly used to haunt the halls of his business, a private equity firm called Eli Global in a nod to his Yale roots, in a Steve Jobsian, hands-on way. That all ended a year ago, as the unfurling scandal lead to scrutiny into his dealings. He’s handed off daily control to a group of senior executives after 30 years of frequent attendance.

His extra-professional lifestyle is also sustaining blows, with his string of nationwide mansions now on the market. Even his yacht (“Double Down”) is currently up for sale.

4) Lindberg was bipartisan in his donations to whichever political side he thought would help him and his business most

Lindberg has used his deep pockets to obtain political allies. Obviously, his attempt to do so with Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey is what landed him in this mess to begin with. But it wasn’t his first rodeo.

In 2016, he gave heavily to the (ultimately unsuccessful) reelection campaign of former Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, a Democrat. Before he lost to Causey, the Department of Insurance under Goodwin allowed Lindberg’s companies to invest up to 40% in its affiliates — in North Carolina, the norm is 10%. Causey told WRAL that he fielded concerns from staff when he took over that Lindberg’s companies were getting such special treatment. Goodwin denies any wrongdoing and was not named in the indictment.

In 2017-2018, Lindberg shifted his support to Republican groups, including the hefty donation to the House Republicans and attempted lump sum to their Senate counterparts. 

5) This is the latest in a string of outrageously negative headlines for the North Carolina GOP

This indictment could not have come at a worse time for the state party.

It’s already been badly bruised in the past few months from the disaster in the Ninth District, where a political operative and his employees working for Republican Mark Harris were indicted on charges related to absentee ballot fraud. That investigation is ongoing and the Justice Department has involved itself, even as new Republicans and the same Democrat compete for the seat in a special election.

Republicans threw everything they had at the wall during a recent state Supreme Court seat election — including personal smears, messing with the ballot design and quiet attempts to pack the court — only to watch Democrat Anita Earls handily win the election.

It’s been a no good, very bad stretch for the NC GOP, and the hits just keep coming.

 

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