RALEIGH — Campaign finance reports show multiple financial ties between North Carolina’s lieutenant governor and Greg Lindberg, a political donor recently indicted on conspiracy and bribery charges.
But, at least until recently, those financial reports didn’t show all of their ties.
The campaign for Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, a Republican who plans to run for governor in 2020, told The News & Observer of Raleigh that it failed to report what is known as an in-kind contribution from Lindberg in 2017. That is generally required for a contribution of something other than money. The acknowledgment comes less than a month after The News & Observer reported that Lindberg was the host of an event for Forest in August 2017 and that campaign finance reports found no mention of an in-kind donation associated with Lindberg’s property.
In a Facebook photo reported on by the News & Observer, Forest can be seen speaking at Lindberg’s Durham residence in front of a group of people, some of whom are holding drinks.
Campaign finance laws don’t require Forest to disclose the use of a residence for a fundraiser, Forest campaign spokesman Hal Weatherman told the News & Observer when it reported on the photo. But on Monday, Weatherman said the campaign should’ve reported $3,761 in catering services provided by Lindberg.
“In looking into this matter, I discovered that an in kind contribution was not submitted for food and beverage provided at the event,” Weatherman wrote in an email. “We have amended our filed report with the (State Board of Elections) to reflect the update.”
The omission is a “bookkeeping error,” Weatherman said. It “would make no sense to report over $2.4 million in contributions and then willfully try to conceal $3,761 for food and beverage at a fundraiser that we publicly posted on Facebook,” he added.
The state elections board has been in contact with the Forest campaign as part of a standard, ongoing audit of campaign finance disclosure reports, board spokesman Patrick Gannon said Monday. The campaign is unlikely to face a penalty as a result of the error, he said.
“A typical remedy could be the amendment of reports,” Gannon said.
After the News & Observer’s article was published, Robert Howard, a spokesman for the N.C. Democratic Party, suggested Forest deliberately withheld information about the donation.
“Dan Forest lied about his connections to an indicted donor and then tried to cover them up, only revealing the truth when forced. Forest continues to show he’s unfit to lead our state,” Howard said.
Lindberg, an insurance executive, is one of four people indicted for allegedly trying to bribe N.C. Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey. The others are Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes, Lindberg consultant John Gray and John Palermo, a vice president for one of Lindberg’s companies.
Forest was not mentioned in the indictment.
Lindberg’s indictment casts a shadow over the candidates he has supported, which include Republicans and Democrats.
He gave $750,000 to the N.C. Democratic Party last year and $500,000 to a PAC that supported party chairman Wayne Goodwin when he sought re-election as North Carolina’s insurance commissioner in 2016. He lost to Causey.
But none stood to benefit from Lindberg’s donations as much as Forest.
In the past two years, Lindberg gave $1.4 million to the N.C. Republican Council of State Committee, which Forest chairs. Lindberg also gave $1 million to the North Carolina-registered super PAC “Truth and Prosperity,” for which Forest has raised money.
Asked whether Forest plans to repay the in-kind contribution, Weatherman said no.