Prosecutor: Lindberg Wanted Causey To 'Man Up,' Remove Deputy In Exchange For Contributions
Updated 5:53 p.m.
Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey testified Wednesday in the political bribery trial of businessman Greg Lindberg. Lindberg and two of his associates are accused of trying to funnel $2 million to Causey in exchange for removing a senior deputy in his office who was part of the regulation of Lindberg's insurance companies.
WFAE's Steve Harrison has been at the federal courthouse in Charlotte to hear testimony and opening statements. He joined All Things Considered host Gwendolyn Glenn and WFAE's Nick de la Canal for an upate.
Gwendolyn Glenn: Steve, what did Insurance Commissioner Causey say from the stand?
Steve Harrison: So he started talking about how he'd run to try and be the state's insurance commissioner four times before, (and) lost all those times. Finally, he won in 2016. And when he gets into office, one of the first things he asks one of his deputies is, "Are there any companies, insurance companies that could be in financial trouble?" And the deputy replies, mentions Lindberg's companies. And that's how he says Greg Lindberg first comes on his radar.
He talked about how one of Lindberg's associates reached out to him, asking him to put in a call to an insurance commissioner in Michigan to put in a good word for them, which he did. He did make that call. And then he receives a $10,000 campaign contribution, which he returns. Another contribution comes in, much larger. He is uncomfortable with that, as well.
And what Lindberg's associates were asking, they were upset. They felt like they were being unfairly regulated by his deputy and they were pushing Causey to replace her with someone else. And he goes to the FBI, expresses his concerns, agrees to wear a wire. He has video and audio. And that's kind of where we are right now in the courtroom -- is that we are listening to tapes of him meeting with Lindberg and his associates, talking about their desire to transfer his deputy.
Nick de la Canal: How did prosecutors lay out the case earlier in the day?
Steve Harrison: So prosecutor James Mann said that Lindberg wanted Causey to remove the senior deputy, Jackie Obusek, who was regulating Lindberg's insurance companies. He often referred to quotes attributed to the defendants, which came from Causey wearing a wire in which they said Causey needs to, "Man up and remove a Obusek in exchange for the promised $2 million in campaign contributions." At one point he held up his left fist and said that represented a $2 million bribe, then he held up his right fist and said that kind of equaled the removal of the regulator.
De la Canal: And how did the defense respond?
Harrison: So they argued that Causey had entrapped Lindbergh and that Causey had a vendetta against him. They portrayed Causey as desperate to win reelection this year and that he went out of his way to punish Lindberg, who had contributed to the previous insurance commissioner. Defense attorney Brandon McCarthy said the evidence will show that “this was a setup by a dishonest man to repeatedly ensnare and entrap these two men.”
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