Top GOP Lawmaker In NC Pleads Guilty To Federal Charges, Resigns Seat
According to The News & Observer, North Carolina House Rules Chairman David Lewis (R-Harnett), one of the most powerful Republicans in the state legislature, “was charged with federal financial crimes Thursday, in what prosecutors say was a scheme to take money from his political donors for personal use.”
- Lewis announced abruptly on Thursday that he was resigning his seat effective immediately, the outlet reported.
- “Federal court documents show Lewis was charged Thursday with not filing taxes and making false statements to a bank, in relation to his campaign finance scheme,” the report continued.
- Shortly after the charges were announced publicly, prosecutors said Lewis would take a plea deal.
One of the two charges he faced could have led to a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. But prosecutors will recommend a much lighter sentence ranging from probation to six months in prison, the plea deal says.
- The court document outlining the charges says that Lewis devised “a scheme to secretly siphon donors’ money out of his campaign account and put it to personal use.”
- “He reported that his campaign was sending money to the North Carolina Republican Party but in reality, the court document says, he was writing checks to a bank account he controlled,” The News & Observer wrote. “He put the account in the name of a company — which federal prosecutors say never existed — that he called “NC GOP, Inc.” to disguise what was going on.”
The charges outline $65,000 that he allegedly took for personal use in August 2018. The court document says he later paid the Republican Party the same amount of money from his personal bank account.
- In a written statement of apology released Thursday, Lewis said he had been under financial distress for several years.
“These are my mistakes, and my mistakes alone. I am very sorry for these mistakes, and I apologize.
“I was raised on a farm, and I’ve been a farmer all my life. But farming has been tough for me for the past six years in a row and the financial stress I’ve been under has been tremendous. However, that is the reality facing many family farms, and it does not excuse my mistakes.”