*I just submitted one...can you please delete the "Btw..." part and replace with: I bet you think HIPAA is an animal....

Hayse indictment reveals systemic problems

Republican Chairman

North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes speaks during the North Carolina Republican Party State Convention at the Wilmington Convention Center.


Monday, April 15, 2019

The day before his indictment was announced last week, Robin Hayes said he was stepping down as chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party because of health issues. The next day, the public learned that what was driving Hayes from office wasn’t only his ailments, but the ill health of North Carolina’s system of political fundraising.

The indictment handed up by a federal grand jury accuses Hayes of trying to funnel bribe money to state Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey on behalf of Greg Lindberg, a major political donor who owns a business subject to regulation by the insurance commissioner. Hayes, a former congressman, is also charged with three counts of making false statements to the FBI. Lindberg and two other people were also charged following an investigation that started when Causey, a Republican, took his concerns about attempted bribery to the FBI.

The details are still emerging, and those indicted maintain they didn’t break the law. But the outlines of the case and actions that are not in dispute show a system of political fundraising that invites corruption and may be rife with it. The central problem is that while donors are limited to $5,400 in contributions to a state candidate, they can make unlimited contributions to a state political party.

That distinction encourages donors to get around individual contribution limits by giving large amounts to the party with a tacit understanding that a hefty share of that contribution will find its way to a specific candidate. That winking agreement is a constant temptation in the Democratic and Republican parties. In this case, the indictment says Hayes gave in to it by helping Lindberg channel $250,000 to Causey’s campaign from contributions he had made to the state Republican Party. The trouble Hayes and Lindberg ran into, investigators say, is that their intention was revealed during calls and meetings, at least some of which Causey recorded.

The obvious fix would be to place limits on how much individuals can give to state political parties. That bill should be offered as soon as possible. Another improvement would be to restore and expand public financing for elections. The insurance commissioner, other Council of State offices and appellate court races were eligible for public financing before the Republican-led legislature ended the program in 2013.

But this case also occurs in a wider context in which unlimited donations are a threat to the integrity of government.

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling allowed corporations and unions to give unlimited amounts to groups that support but are not working in conjunction with candidates. Meanwhile, there are too many ways for businesses, unions and individuals to give money in support of candidates and officeholders without their identity being disclosed. This so-called “dark money” has shaped elections and increased cynicism about whether government is responsive to the public or to unknown political contributors.

The actions described in the indictment show the rot in the system of funding campaigns. Lindberg contributed heavily to both the state Republican and Democratic parties — and former Democratic Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, now the state Democratic chairman. Members of the General Assembly received his largesse, and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest was Lindberg’s greatest beneficiary.

Hayes’ indictment shocked many in the capital, but those who deal in increasingly unlimited and undocumented political funding should have been surprised only that charges took this long to come. Campaign finance laws do not adequately protect the public trust. Until that changes, the public will have to rely on the conscience of officials like Mike Causey.

The News & Observer of Raleigh


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


June 10, 2019

As the election results became clear in 2016, financial markets rose amid a surge of economic optimism. That surge continued for two years as Donald Trump and Republicans pursued a pro-growth agenda of tax reform, deregulation and encouraging domestic energy production. But with Democrats now…

June 08, 2019

Keith Cox served the residents of Virginia Beach in the public utilities department for 12 years.

Well-liked by co-workers, he spent his final moments on Friday working to protect them from a gunman in the municipal center — sacrificing his life in the process.

The remembrance of Cox,…

APTOPIX Virginia Beach Shooting-6

June 04, 2019

Give Harry Smith credit for being willing to do his homework and change his mind.

Smith, the usually outspoken and politically conservative chairman of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, emerged from a recent board meeting and told reporters that his thinking about what to do…

Confederate Monuments-5

June 03, 2019

Vice President Mike Pence came to Charlotte this week for a 2020 Republican National Convention kickoff event. The visit was a reminder of the discomfort many feel in this progressive city about the 2020 RNC — an uneasiness so deep that Mayor Vi Lyles said last summer that she wouldn’t…

RNC Charlotte 2020-4

June 01, 2019

A state budget is a spending plan, but the proposal the state Senate’s Republican majority presented Tuesday is better described as an anti-spending plan. It is an unalloyed version of Senate leader Phil Berger’s iron-rule of government: Cut taxes and spend the absolute minimum. If…

State Of The State North Carolina-3

May 28, 2019

Around the turn of the last century, the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie paid to build 1,689 libraries across the United States. Many are still in use, celebrated as monumental works of philanthropy.

They should be seen as monuments to the failure of public policy. The United States could have built…

May 27, 2019

If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community — or perhaps anyone who has lived in North Carolina the past decade — you were probably surprised to learn that Thom Tillis is a “pro-LGBTQ Republican.”

It’s true, according to the American Unity Fund, a conservative gay…

Border Security Tillis-2

May 25, 2019

Want to understand how the tariffs on China work? Don’t take President Donald Trump’s word for it.

Here’s what he’s had to say. We’ll follow with why he’s wrong, who really pays and who really suffers (hint, it’s not China or Trump).

First, from…

China Trade-2

May 21, 2019

Our planet is on life support.

That’s the dire message from a landmark United Nations report that found one million species of plants and animals — out of a total of eight million — are at risk of extinction as the result of human actions.

It’s a message the world dare not…

Trump Giraffes Endangered

May 20, 2019

Kim Strach, the executive director of the state Board of Elections, was doing a good job before she got fired Monday. She’d helped guide the board through the minefield of the 9th Congressional District election fraud scandal. She’d offered strong suggestions to lawmakers about…

Election 2018 North Carolina-6
52 stories in Editorials. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 6
        Next Page»   Last Page»