Wall Street Journal breaks down business dealings of NC's largest political donor
Billionaire political donor Greg Lindberg is the subject of a federal investigation, The Wall Street Journal reports. As North Carolina's largest political donor, he has given money to both Republicans and Democrats. The regulations governing his companies were loosened.Posted — Updated
The newspaper gave one example where Lindberg moved a company to North Carolina to accomplish this, using the state's looser rules and an agreement with unidentified regulators to boost those investments during Wayne Goodwin's time as state insurance commissioner.
Lindberg declined The Journal's interview requests, but a spokesman said many of the purchases highlighted were investments, that the yacht has charter possibilities and that the two aircraft were used for business.
Lindberg has repeatedly declined to speak to WRAL News, and an effort to reach him through another spokesman Thursday was not immediately successful.
Bob Hall, a longtime campaign finance analyst who retired in 2017 from Democracy North Carolina, puts the total at more than $6 million when other employees from Lindberg's companies are included. Lindberg has given to politicians in other states as well, often with a focus on the insurance industry.
He's given mostly to Republicans in North Carolina, and particularly the North Carolina Republican Party and entities backing Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, but he's a major donor to the North Carolina Democratic Party as well.
The Journal revealed Thursday that Causey provided federal investigators with secret recordings in the case. The commissioner declined to confirm that Thursday to WRAL News, and would say only what he has in the past: His department has cooperated with the inquiry.
Goodwin, now chairman of the state Democratic Party, told The Journal that he has cooperated with federal investigators, that he's not the target of their inquiry and that “any suggestion that I have ever taken any action in return for contributions is categorically false."
Goodwin told The Journal that he didn’t recall “being asked to take or direct any action” to help Lindberg.
In a statement issued Thursday, Goodwin said his own work for Lindberg began "several months after concluding my Commissioner service" and has "long since ended."
Spokespeople for Forest didn't immediately respond to emails seeking comment. Lindberg has put more than $2 million into PACs supporting the lieutenant governor.
State GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse said he didn't have anything to add beyond what he told The Journal, which was essentially what he has told North Carolina media in the past: The party knew Lindberg wanted some of his donations to the state party to go to Causey, but the party decided to give money to the Causey campaign on its own.
Industry experts in The Journal article expressed concern that Lindberg's practices expose insurance policyholders to "an unusual and potentially risky strategy."
The Journal said Lindberg bought an insurance company in Alabama in 2014 and quickly moved it to North Carolina before pulling tens of millions of dollars out of it and lending that money to some of his other companies. The newspaper said state regulators made a rare exception for him, letting him do this with a higher percentage of the company's money than is typically allowed.
A department spokeswoman declined to comment, citing the federal investigation, the newspaper reported. State regulators eventually objected, though, and The Journal said Lindberg responded by creating new entities to borrow from the insurance companies, which would then lend the money to a third Lindberg company.
The Journal also reported that Lindberg bought a home in north Raleigh last year for $5.5 million by relying, in part, on a $3.3 million loan from a company that he's president of. The sale was said to be the largest private home sale in city history.
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