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Trump-backed Republican who ran for Mark Meadows’ old House seat gets probation for campaign finance violation

<i>WLOS</i><br/>Lynda Bennett in August 2020.
Lynda Bennett in August 2020.

By Holmes Lybrand, CNN

(CNN) — A conservative candidate who unsuccessfully ran for Mark Meadows’ former House seat in North Carolina in 2020 and was endorsed by then-President Donald Trump was sentenced Tuesday to one year of probation for violating federal campaign law.

Lynda Bennett, a North Carolina real estate agent, pleaded guilty in March to one count of “accepting contributions in the name of another,” according to court documents. Bennett was also ordered to pay a $7,500 fine as part of her sentence.

During the sentencing hearing Tuesday, Justice Department prosecutor Ryan Crosswell told the court the FBI had discovered Bennett’s crime as “part of a larger investigation.”

“We just were reviewing records,” Crosswell said of how authorities uncovered Bennett’s false financial reporting.

According to the plea agreement, Bennett transferred a $25,000 loan from a family member to her federal campaign committee, falsely reporting the money as a personal loan from her own funds.

In 2019, individual contributions were capped at $2,800 for primary races – an amount which the family member’s contribution significantly surpassed.

According to Crosswell, Bennett paid back the loan two months after receiving it and never used the money in her campaign.

While Crosswell – who recommended a sentence of probation with no fine or jail time – told Judge Christopher Cooper the crime “erodes the democratic process,” he noted that Bennett had no criminal history and that the source of the money was not nefarious.

During the sentencing hearing, Bennett told Cooper she was “very sorry for the distress and concern” she caused her friends and family and, when asked by the judge if she would ever enter politics again, Bennett chuckled.

“No more,” she said.

“It’s not what you think it’s going to be. It’s different. It’s harder,” Bennett said of running for office.

She lost her GOP primary race in 2020 to Madison Cawthorn, who served one term before losing his primary in 2022.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Aleena Fayaz contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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