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Insurance commissioner sending challenged donation to feds

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s insurance commissioner said he’s handing over to the federal government a contribution that’s the subject of a citizen’s complaint alleging improper campaign giving by a leading state donor who also faces scrutiny from federal investigators.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey told WRAL-TV it was the FBI’s idea to send in the $240,000 received in July from the state Republican Party. He said the agency told him he couldn’t return it to the GOP because it “was part of their investigation.” The handoff was neither part of any deal nor a federal government seizure, Causey told the station.

“Our campaign is simply sending them a check,” Causey said Wednesday. A FBI spokeswoman in Charlotte declined to comment Thursday.

A state elections complaint filed Monday by a former county Democratic Party official alleges the money came from $1.5 million that Durham investment firm founder Greg Lindberg donated to the state GOP in the 18 months ending June 30. The complaint claims Lindberg gave the money to the Republican Party as way to bypass individual donation limits to campaign committees of $5,200 per election. Parties can give unlimited amounts to candidate committees.

Federal investigators already have subpoenaed the Insurance Department seeking information on Lindberg and insurance companies associated with Lindberg. Causey said the department is cooperating and he and the department are not targets of the federal inquiry.

Causey, who is not the ballot this fall, and state GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse said state campaign finance laws were followed.

“We made a legal donation,” Woodhouse told WRAL. “What Mike Causey decided to do with it is up to him.”

Lindberg, who hasn’t commented publicly about the elections complaint or federal subpoena, has given more than $5 million since 2016 to North Carolina candidate and party committees and independent expenditure groups, according to campaign finance reports. Some of the money has gone to the Democratic Party.

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For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics

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Information from: WRAL-TV, http://www.wral.com

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