Mike Causey ended Greg Lindberg’s fundraising shakedown, and Greg Lindberg may crush Dan Forest’s political image. Although Forest has not been accused of any criminal wrongdoing, he was deep in the Swamp with North Carolina’s most corrupt donor. He was so invested in their partnership that he wouldn’t abrogate his loyalty even after a fairly clear act of corruption. “Those are good guys,” he said, incredibly. He probably regrets those words already.
It is hard to overstate Forest’s ties to Lindberg. The insurance executive donated $2.4 million to Forest’s Super PAC, the Truth and Prosperity committee. (I pause to note the irony of a crooked millionaire investing in “truth.”) Beyond that, Lindberg also invested over a million dollars in the Republican Council of State Committee, which Forest chairs. Rather oddly, Forest accepted Lindberg’s “sponsorship” of his fiftieth birthday party–for a $5,200 fee. And their ties extend beyond campaign finance. Even after Lindberg’s indictment, Forest allowed that the two men are friends.
Whether this dust up will inspire a primary challenge is up in the air. The most likely candidate, washed up former Governor Pat McCrory, gives little sign of action on the campaign front. Others could possibly emerge, but for now it appears that Forest is holding the support of the GOP establishment. In addition, it will be hard for any Republican to shake Forest’s strong support on social media and among the base. As we have seen, the most fervent MAGA warriors have a very high tolerance for scandal.
Regardless of how its consequences play out within Forest’s party, the scandal drives a nail into his core political identity. He portrays himself, with solid justification, as a conviction politician. Consider HB2: Forest fought until the final hour to save that awful law. But now, his reputation for iron-spined consistency is in tatters. His deep ties to Lindberg reflect poor judgment, susceptibility to the temptations of money, and a cynical streak.
The Lindberg scandal wasn’t the first political liability to burden Forest. Our lieutenant governor was already a stone extremist, so similar to his predecessor Jim Gardner it’s almost uncanny. But his grim brand of idealism has taken a severe hit. He’s not only a radical, he’s a friend of a crook.
Alexander Jones is an original contributor to PoliticsNC.