RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A 2020 Republican candidate for a western North Carolina congressional seat has been charged by federal prosecutors with campaign finance violations and has signed a plea deal, court filings say.
Lynda Bennett is accused of willingly and knowingly accepting on behalf of her campaign $25,000 in 2019 contributions from relatives made in the name of another person, according to a criminal information filed Friday by U.S. Department of Justice attorneys.
Another document filed Monday by a federal attorney in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia requested a court hearing because Bennett “signed a plea agreement and a plea agreement.”
Federal law during the 2019-20 election cycle. limited an individual campaign donation to a federal candidate to $2,800 per election, or $5,600 in total, the criminal information said. The document does not identify the relative or the name of the other person who actually made the donations.
Bennett’s attorney, Kearns Davis, said in a written statement that “the case involves a technical violation of campaign finance regulations, based on a loan from a family member. Lynda is looking forward to putting it behind her.”
Politico first reported the case against Bennett, a Haywood County real estate agent who was the Republican candidate in the race for the 11th Congressional District seat held by then-Rep. Mark Meadows. He was leaving the post to become President Donald Trump’s chief of staff. Bennett was a friend of Meadows’ wife and Meadows endorsed him before the March 2020 election. She advanced to the primary runoff, but lost to Madison Cawthorn despite also receiving Trump’s endorsement.
Cawthorn won the 11th District general election in November 2020 and served one term. Then-state Sen. Chuck Edwards defeated Cawthorne in a primary last May and joined Congress earlier this month.