One of the most powerful Republican representatives in the North Carolina state House resigned Thursday, Aug. 20.
Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) submitted his resignation from the House on the same day he accepted a deal to plead guilty to two federal charges of making false statements to a bank and failing to file a federal tax return.
If Lewis had gone to court and was found guilty, he could have been facing a sentence of up to 30 years. The plea deal includes a recommendation from the US attorney’s office of the Western District on North Carolina that Lewis serve no time in prison and the maximum he could serve under the terms of the deal is six months.
Lewis was chairman of the state House Rules Committee and one of the most powerful members of the state House. Lewis had filed to run for reelection for his 10th term and in July made the surprise announcement that he was retiring and would not run for reelection, but Lewis did not resign his position until Aug. 20.
Because Lewis was one of the most powerful representatives in the state House, he was able to raise a lot more in campaign money than he needed for his own race, and he sent checks to the North Carolina Republican Party, (NCGOP), which is legal and a common practice for the powerful members of the legislature.
However, according to the federal indictment in 2018, Lewis opened a bank account under the name NC GOP Inc. when no such corporate entity existed. Lewis then took a check for $50,000 written to NCGOP and deposited it in the NC GOP Inc. account. He later wrote checks totaling about $50,000 to his Lewis Farms account from the NC GOP Inc. account.
Lewis, according to the indictment, also in 2018 purchased a cashiers check for $15,000 from the campaign account and deposited that in the NC GOP Inc. account. He later transferred that money to his Lewis Farms account.
The indictment states that later Lewis made contributions to the North Carolina Republican Party for $65,000 from his personal account.
Federal documents also state that in 2018 Lewis transferred a total of $300,000 from his campaign account to his person account and that Lewis later repaid his campaign account in full.
Speaker of the state House Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) released a statement stating, “I have been a friend and colleague of David’s since college, and while people make mistakes they must be held accountable, particularly as public servants. I wish the Lewis family well moving forward from this.”