Right now, the press is pushing a false equivalency narrative in the Greg Lindberg scandal that led to the indictments of state GOP Chair Robin Hayes and former Chatham County GOP Chair John Palermo. Stories quickly popped up saying “Democrats took Lindberg money, too.” That’s not quite right. Almost all of the money Greg Lindberg gave to Democrats was connected to one Democrat, Party Chair Wayne Goodwin, not a host of other Democrats.
Lindberg gave around $7 million to various political committees. About $6 million went to Republicans and about half of that went to committees affiliated with Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest. Another $2 million went to the state Republican Party headed by indicted party chair Robin Hayes. Congressman Mark Walker took six figures from Lindberg and made calls to Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey, though he denies they were inappropriate. House Speaker Tim Moore admits meeting with Lindberg numerous times and his caucus took almost $300,000 from him. In other words, Lindberg’s money tainted every member of the GOP leadership besides Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, whose political team was smart enough to smell a rat and turned the money down.
In contrast, party chair and former Commissioner of Insurance Wayne Goodwin appears to be the conduit for almost all of the money coming to Democrats. So far, there’s no evidence that Goodwin did anything illegal or inappropriate. He has said repeatedly that he’s not under investigation. The money Lindberg gave to Democrats either went to a campaign fund supporting Goodwin’s bid for Commissioner of insurance or to the state party that Goodwin chairs. It didn’t spread through the Democratic leadership like it did in the Republican Party.
However, Goodwin’s successor, Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey, says Lindberg received special treatment under Goodwin’s administration. Goodwin also had contracts with a couple of Lindberg’s companies after he lost his seat in 2016. Causey’s accusation is vague and nobody has suggested that authorities are looking into illegal activity while Goodwin was Insurance Commissioner. So there’s really not a story unless more information comes forward.
Still, Goodwin needs to clear up the accusations. As chair of the party, his public problems are problems for the party he leads. Democrats are heading into the most important election cycle of the decade. The need to pick up one house of the legislature if they want to influence redistricting following the 2020 census. They also need to protect an incumbent governor and try to take out as sitting US Senator. They don’t need a scandal following the party chair as the cycle heats up.
At this point, this scandal is a Republican one. The only people who have been indicted are Republicans. The press should back off on stories implying that Democrats are somehow as dirty as Republicans in this mess. The donations to Democrats centered around a single man, albeit an influential one, while the donations to Republicans touched almost the entire party leadership. The two are not the same.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >