Insurance commissioner recorded meeting with donor, NCGOP chairman for FBI investigation

Updated: Mar. 6, 2019 at 2:44 PM EST
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RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) – Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey made a secret recording of a meeting he attended along with a wealthy donor and the chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, according to two sources with knowledge the meeting or the contents of the recording.

The meeting took place between Causey, NCGOP Chairman Robin Hayes, a Durham businessman named Greg Lindberg and one of his associates.

Lindberg is the subject of a federal investigation being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina.

The investigation is probing potential financial crimes related to Lindberg’s expansive business empire as well as public corruption allegations stemming from Lindberg’s reported efforts to buy the cooperation of politicians in North Carolina.

Lindberg has donated millions of dollars to the NCGOP—as well as written six-figure checks to the North Carolina Democratic Party—in recent years.

Related: NCGOP took nearly $2 million from donor under FBI investigation, gave some to Causey campaign

The NCGOP sent a portion of Lindberg’s money to Causey at Lindberg’s request.

North Carolina law prohibits personal contributions to campaigns to $5,200 but political parties can give their candidates an unlimited about of money.

NCGOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse first confirmed to WBTV in early October that the party gave a portion of the money Lindberg had contributed to the NCGOP to Causey at the donor’s request. But Woodhouse insisted the contribution from the party to Causey was legal because Lindberg had already given the money at the time he requested the party make a contribution to Causey.

The party’s contribution to Causey was a result of a meeting where Lindberg and his associate asked Hayes if the party would be willing to cut a roughly quarter-million-dollar check from the party to Causey, according to a person who has heard the recording; one of the two people who provided details to WBTV on the condition they not be identified to discuss sensitive evidence in an ongoing federal investigation.

The conversation was captured on a recording device used by Causey, the second person confirmed to WBTV.

Audio of that meeting has been played before the grand jury investigating this case, according to one of the people who spoke with WBTV on the condition their identity not be revealed.

Details of the meeting come after the Wall Street Journal first reported Causey made secret records for the FBI in an expansive article detailing Lindberg’s business organization and the ongoing investigation.

Related: Goodwin worked for donor under FBI investigation after leaving Insurance Commissioner post

In October, Woodhouse told WBTV a contribution to Causey was one of several suggestions Lindberg made to the party regarding how to use the money he had contributed.

“He made a number of suggestions to us,” Woodhouse said. “A lot of which we did not follow.”

But Woodhouse said he decided to go along with Lindberg’s suggestion of contributing money to Causey’s campaign—which, he said, came after he contributed money to the party—because it aligned with the party’s interest.

“There’s no doubt that, in part, we would do it because the donor had an interest. The donor’s interest aligned with ours, you know?” Woodhouse said.

WRAL reported in October that Causey was directed by the FBI to accept the contribution from the NCGOP. Causey, the report said, turned the money over to federal investigators.

Causey declined to comment when reached by WBTV, citing the ongoing investigation.

Similarly, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s office in Charlotte declined to comment for this story.

Lindberg’s attorney did not respond to a request seeking comment for this article.

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