North Carolina GOP, Causey, big donor subjects of complaint

October 31, 2018 GMT

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A former county Democratic Party official alleges a large donation from the North Carolina Republican Party to state Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey’s campaign broke laws so a big donor could bypass individual giving limits.

Ex-Wake County Democratic Party leader David Bland filed accusations this week with the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement against Causey, the state GOP and Greg Lindberg.

Lindberg founded a Durham investment company that controls several insurance firms. He’s given nearly $1.5 million to the state Republican Party in the 18 months ending June 30. A finance report filed Monday showed the party sent $240,000 to Causey’s campaign through two contributions in July. Causey, who was first elected commissioner in 2016 and isn’t on the ballot this fall, denied any wrongdoing through a spokesman.

Bland’s complaint alleges donations to Causey are earmarked from Lindberg’s party giving, citing comments made by state GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse about Lindberg to a television station. Woodhouse has said the party followed the law.

State law limits individual contributions to a candidate committee to $5,200 per election. Routing the contribution to Causey through the GOP was an “end-run around” the contribution cap, Bland wrote. He said the board should force Causey to forfeit the donation and determine violations occurred.

A separate federal subpoena issued in September seeks Insurance Department documents about Lindberg and related companies. Federal authorities have declined comment.

Causey said his campaign has complied with all campaign finance laws, and he and the department are cooperating with federal investigators, department spokesman Barry Smith said Wednesday. The department and Causey are not the targets of the federal investigation, Smith said.

A public relations agency spokesman taking calls for Lindberg didn’t respond to a phone call and email Wednesday seeking comment on the complaint. Lindberg also hasn’t commented on the federal probe.

Woodhouse said in early October he hadn’t spoken to Lindberg about how his recent large donations to the GOP but was told Lindberg had an interest in helping “build up the commissioner’s campaign, and we took that under advisement.”

But Woodhouse told The Associated Press it was ultimately the party’s decision and the money “was fully under (our) control.” The party would never consent to how such a donation would be used before accepting it, he said.

Lindberg has given more than $5 million since 2016 to North Carolina candidate and party committees and independent expenditure groups, according to campaign finance reports. Some of his donations also have benefited the state Democratic Party and former Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, who is now the Democratic Party chair.