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Ally of Ex-Trump Chief of Staff Signed Plea Agreement in Campaign Finance Case, Feds Say

Mark Meadows

Ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows walks along the South Lawn before then-President Donald Trump departs from the White House on Oct. 30, 2020. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

A woman described as a longtime ally of ex-President Donald Trump‘s former chief of staff Mark Meadows has signed a plea agreement on a campaign finance charge, federal prosecutors say.

The charge relates to Lynda Bennett’s ill-fated run against ex-Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) in 2020.

First reported by Politico, Bennett’s criminal information states that she received a $25,000 contribution from a family member for the primary election for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional district. Bennett and Cawthorn advanced to the runoff, which the latter won handily with roughly 65 percent of the vote.

The charging document, filed in the District of D.C. on Friday, contains few details about the nature of the offense, except that it allegedly violates a federal law prohibiting contributions in the name of another. Federal prosecutors say that she “has signed a plea agreement and statement of offense.

“The parties request that the Court set a hearing for the Defendant’s initial appearance and change of plea,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua S. Rothstein wrote in a single-page status report on Monday.

Bennett did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment, but her attorney Kearns Davis, of the firm Brooks Pierce, emailed a statement on her behalf.

“This case involves a technical violation of campaign-finance regulations, based on a loan from a family member,” the statement reads. “Lynda looks forward to putting it behind her.”

On June 4, 2020, Trump endorsed Bennett’s campaign for Congress, calling her a “great fighter and ally in North Carolina.” Bennett responded to Trump’s tweet making that announcement with enthusiasm.

“Thank you, Mr. President,” Bennett wrote, in a post that still remains pinned to her Twitter account. “I am honored to have your endorsement and am excited to help you Keep America Great.”

Politico described Bennett as a family friend of Meadows, a relationship that appears apparent in the then-congressman’s video endorsing her in early 2020.

“I’m endorsing my good friend Linda Bennett for Congress,” Meadows said in the February 2020 video. “I’ve known Linda for years. She’s a devout Christian, pro-life and a defender of the Second Amendment. A lot of people go to Washington, D.C., and change, and that just won’t happen to Linda. She’s a conservative outsider, not a professional politician. Linda Bennett will work with President Trump to drain the swamp and Keep America Great.”

The ex-chief of staff’s wife Debbie Meadows had joined Bennett on the campaign trail in February 2020, as well, promotional materials unearthed by Politico indicate.

Bennett’s case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Christopher R. Cooper, a Barack Obama appointee.

Update—Jan. 30 at 2:53 p.m. ET: This story has been updated to add a statement from Bennett’s lawyer.

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."