The Chatham County Republican Party didn’t want to talk Wednesday about a $100,000 donation from a businessman under federal investigation.
Greg Lindberg, the owner of Eli Global, LLC, in Durham, made the donation April 4, according to a campaign finance report.
Lindberg, of Chapel Hill, was the single largest donor to the N.C. Republican Party in 2017, according to the News & Observer. He has also contributed to the state Democratic Party.
Last month, the U.S. attorney for Western North Carolina subpoenaed records from the N.C. Department of Insurance seeking anything the department has related to Lindberg or his numerous companies.
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“This subpoena relates to an investigation of drug offenses, crimes against financial institutions, or money laundering crimes,” the subpoena says.
The subpoena was signed by U.S. Attorney R. Andrew Murray, an appointee of President Donald Trump who oversees federal trials in Charlotte and the rest of Western North Carolina. He was previously the elected district attorney for Mecklenburg County.
Lindberg’s donation represented about half of the $200,876.63 in total donations the Chatham County Republican Party received from individuals in the first six months of the year, according to a campaign finance report.
The party had started 2018 with $27,153.64 and had $150,813.63 on hand June 30 when the second quarter reporting period ended. The next report showing third-quarter donations and expenditures is due Oct. 29.
By comparison, the Chatham County Democratic Executive Committee finished the second quarter with $34,971.77 after beginning with $34,579.64, according to its report.
The executive committee of the Chatham County Republican Party met Tuesday night at Central Carolina Community College, where Lindberg’s donation was discussed.
Treasurer Gayle Daniel would not comment on the meeting.
Terry Schmidt, acting chairman, when reached by phone Wednesday said “No thanks” and hung up.
Brian Bock and Neill Lindley, who are running for county commissioner, went to the meeting but were asked to leave with others who aren’t executive committee members, Bock said. They got a few minutes to speak at the beginning of the gathering. Bock, a commissioner from 2011-14, served as chairman of the local party until 2016.
He said his campaign has received some money from local fundraisers with party for this election cycle. But he added that neither he nor Lindley want to get any money linked to Lindberg’s donation. Bock said the party should return the money to Lindberg or donate it to a Chatham County nonprofit organization.
John Palermo was GOP chairman when the party received Lindberg’s donation and also made smaller donations where he listed Eli Global as his employer. Palermo stepped away from his leadership role with the Chatham County Republican Party in September, Bock said. The NC GOP has informed the local party that a new chairman needs to be elected, said state executive director Dallas Woodhouse. The next local party meeting is Nov. 13. Efforts to speak with Palermo for this story were unsuccessful.
Individuals are limited in how much money they may donate to candidates. The limit to individual candidates is $5,200. But donations to political parties, which can distribute money to candidates, can be made in unlimited amounts.
Local political parties must file quarterly financial reports with the State Board of Elections. These reports are public records and can be found on the SBOE’s website.
Chatham County has 13,032 registered Republicans, about a quarter of the 53,504 registered voters. There are 20,898 registered Democrats and 19,336 unaffiliated voters in the county, according to the Chatham County Board of Elections.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated with information about local fundraisers in Chatham County for the benefit of candidates.
Staff writer Will Doran contributed to this story.