North Carolina Republicans are facing a new criminal scandal — and it even involves a sitting congressman.
A day after he was indicted on federal charges of bribery and corruption, former congressman and current North Carolina Republican Party chair Robin Hayes is refusing to step down from his position in the party.
In a Wednesday statement, a defiant Hayes announced he would merely hand over day-to-day responsibilities to someone else, but he will remain head of the state's Republican Party. Hayes, who served in Congress from 1999 to 2009, claimed that keeping his leadership role was "in the best interest of the party."
On Tuesday, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina unsealed an indictment against Hayes; Greg Lindberg, a Republican donor; and several other prominent Republicans on charges of bribery and wire fraud. The defendants are accused of trying to bribe North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey to replace his deputy.
And the scandal goes higher up, reaching into the halls of Congress: Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) may have been involved in the scheme.
While not charged with any crime at the moment, a political committee controlled by Walker, identified as "Public Official A" in court documents, received $150,000 from Lindberg around the same time Lindberg allegedly asked Walker to pressure Causey to replace his deputy, according to Politico.
Documents released by the Department of Justice allege that one of Lindberg's associates told others that Walker made multiple calls to Causey and was "trying to help us move the ball forward."
Walker denied any wrongdoing when asked about the scandal by Politico. Even if he is not indicted, Walker could still face an investigation by the House Ethics Committee.
The bribery scandal is only the most recent accusation of wrongdoing leveled at North Carolina Republicans. State and federal investigators are looking into massive election fraud by the congressional campaign of Republican Mark Harris during the 2018 midterm election. McCrae Dowless, the longtime GOP operative Harris hired for his campaign, was indicted in February after the North Carolina Board of Elections unanimously decided it could not certify the election results and called for a new election for the seat.
Hayes announced a day before the indictment was unsealed that he would not seek re-election as the chair of the state's Republican Party. Republicans meet in June to select a new chair, one presumably not embroiled in one of the state's many scandals.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.