By Andy Sullivan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday that it had charged the chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, Robert "Robin" Hayes, in a bribery and corruption case that also involved two businessmen and another state party official.
Hayes, 73, is charged with conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, bribery, and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Justice Department said.
According to the charges, Hayes worked with three insurance executives to bribe the state's insurance commissioner in an effort to remove an official in that office that regulated their company, Global Bankers Insurance Group.
The three executives, named as Greg Lindberg, 48, John Gray, 68, and John Palermo, 63, were also charged in the case.
According to the indictment, they told the insurance commissioner they would spend $1.5 million to help him get re-elected. Hayes, meanwhile, funneled another $250,000 through the state Republican party to the insurance commissioner's campaign.
The insurance commissioner, who is not named in the indictment, reported the bribery attempt to law enforcement officials and cooperated in the investigation, U.S. authorities say.
Hayes, a former U.S. Congress member, led the state party between 2011 and 2013, when it won a dominant majority in the state legislature, and again since 2016. He announced yesterday that he would step down from the position.
His lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and the North Carolina Republican Party declined to comment.
(Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Susan Thomas and James Dalgleish)
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Updated Date: Apr 03, 2019 00:06:29 IST