Trump-backed Republican pleads guilty to taking illegal campaign contribution

Lynda Bennett, who lost to Madison Cawthorn in the 2020 Republican primary

A Trump-endorsed Republican pleaded guilty to accepting illegal campaign contributions while she was a congressional candidate in the 2020 North Carolina primary, which she lost to Madison Cawthorn.

Lynda Bennett – who was backed by then-President Donald Trump and his chief of staff Mark Meadows in her bid for Meadows’ former House seat in North Carolina – pleaded guilty to one count of “accepting contributions in the name of another,” according to the Justice Department.

Bennett, 65, of Maggie Valley, North Carolina, was a primary candidate for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District in 2020.

In late December 2019, Bennett borrowed $25,000 from a family member, representing that she needed the money for personal expenses because she had to spend a large amount of her own money on her campaign.

The day after depositing the loaned money into a personal account, Bennett caused $80,000, including the $25,000 in loaned funds, to be transferred to the bank account of Lynda Bennett for Congress (LBC), her authorized federal campaign committee.

Under the the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), Bennett was required to report a loan from a third-party individual as a campaign contribution.

Bennett knowingly and willfully violated the FECA by reporting through LBC that the full $80,000 was a loan to her campaign using her own personal funds, rather than disclosing that $25,000 of that amount was a loan from another individual.

Bennett pleaded guilty to one count of accepting contributions in the name of another. She is scheduled to be sentenced on June 20.

Cawthorn, a Meadows staffer who was elected in 2020 to succeed his boss without having his support, but his tenure was marked by controversies including allegations of insider trading, improper payments, bringing a handgun to an airport, and appearing in a leaked nude video, and the young GOP firebrand lost his reelection bid in the 2022 Republican primary to Chuck Edwards.

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