by Sam Hieb
A couple of interesting stories broke over the weekend regarding the indictment of NC Republican Party head Robin Hayes and businessman Greg Lindberg for trying to use campaign donation to influence Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey —whom JLF chair John Hood said was the hero in this whole sordid mess.
For starters, Causey spoke out on Friday, telling WFAE “it was made clear to him when he took office that Global Bankers Insurance Group was treated differently than other companies under his predecessor, Wayne Goodwin.”
Soon after he took office in early 2017, Causey said staff members at the Department of Insurance told him that one of Goodwin’s political appointees in the department wanted to vet all information about the company.
“It was what I was hearing from employees, that some of those employees felt like someone was checking things before it went to them,” Causey said in an interview with WFAE. “And it appeared to some of those employees, that perhaps somebody was wanting to make sure everything was exactly right for what they wanted to go before that company.”
Causey said at least two former political appointees at the Department of Insurance now work for Global Bankers Insurance Group.
One of those appointees wanted to control the flow of information between the department and the company, Causey said. Causey declined to name that employee, citing the ongoing federal investigation.
“There was some concern from some of those folks [in the department], that some of the managers were – I don’t want to say micro-managing – that some of those managers were saying things need to go through here before you send it directly to them,” Causey said. “Just some little things that raised a few questions. That might not have been the way things had always been done.”
Goodwin —now chairman of the N.C. Democratic Party—responded over the weekend, telling the Associated Press “he never performed favors for a big-money donor and he relied on staff experts when his agency approved changes” benefitting Lindberg’s business.
During Goodwin’s eight-year tenure ending in early 2017, the state Insurance Department sharply raised the amount of money Lindberg’s insurers could move out of claim-paying reserves into other companies under his corporate umbrella. Some of the life-insurance assets were invested in higher-paying, higher-risk loans to non-insurance companies in which Lindberg holds a stake, a spokesman said in a statement last month.
“Anything that would have been done would have either been done by a subject-matter expert or would have been raised briefly to my attention and I said, `What do you think? Is this appropriate? Is this your recommendation?’ I really don’t recall any of the details,” Goodwin said.
Again—there is no defense for Robin Hayes if he is guilty f the charges against him. But it’s not hard to see right now that this story is going to take some weird turns that is going to expose some serious issues within DOI under Wayne Goodwin’s leadership.