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Trump- and Meadows-backed House candidate agrees to plead guilty to accepting illegal campaign contribution

By Holmes Lybrand and Hannah Rabinowitz, CNN

Lynda Bennett, who was backed by then-President Donald Trump and Mark Meadows in her run for the latter’s former House seat in North Carolina, has agreed to plead guilty to accepting an illegal campaign contribution during the 2020 primary election cycle, court filings show.

Bennett accepted an illegal campaign contribution from a family member for $25,000 in 2019, prosecutors said. The family member made the donation in someone else’s name, according to court documents.

“This case involves a technical violation of campaign-finance regulations, based on a loan from a family member,” Kearns Davis, an attorney for Bennett, said in a statement. “Lynda looks forward to putting it behind her.”

While Bennett has already signed a plea agreement, prosecutors said in a status report filed in court, it has not yet been approved by a federal judge. Politico first reported on the agreement.

Bennett was backed by Meadows, then the Trump White House chief of staff, when she ran in a crowded field in 2020 to represent North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District. She advanced to a runoff election, which she lost to Madison Cawthorn.

She also earned former Trump’s endorsement during the primary and runoff elections. Trump encouraged his supporters at the time to vote for Bennett, tweeting: “Please let this serve as my Complete and Total Endorsement of a great fighter and ally in North Carolina, @LyndaBennettNC. She is strong on Crime, Borders, Military, our Great Vets & 2A.”

For the 2020 election cycle, individual campaign contributions were legally limited to $2,800 for the primary and the same amount for the general election, meaning an individual could only donate $5,600 per candidate during an election cycle.

“Contributions from members of the candidate’s family are subject to the same limits that apply to any other individual,” the Federal Election Commission notes on its website, describing campaign finance rules, while “candidate contributions to their own campaigns are not subject to any limits.”

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