A likely Republican candidate for governor in 2020 accepted a campaign contribution from the leader of the controversial Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, the News & Observer reports. The paper says campaign finance reports show Lt. Governor Dan Forest accepted $100 contributions from six Word of Faith pastors, including leader Jane Whaley.
The church has come under intense scrutiny after a series of investigative reports (see below) from the Associated Press found members accused the church of various abuse of congregants. They detail patterns of using slave labor, anti-gay activity, and repeated physical and verbal abuses.
Forest is a conservative Christian perhaps best known as one of the prime backers of the controversial House Bill 2. The bill stripped cities and towns of the ability to pass non-discrimination ordinances and mandated people use bathrooms corresponding with the gender on their birth certificates. It was hastily passed by the Republican-dominated state legislature in response to a Charlotte ordinance that allowed people to use public bathrooms in accordance with their gender identity. Backlash to HB2 cost North Carolina in excess of hundreds of millions of dollars in lost business. Newly-elected Democratic Governor Roy Cooper signed a compromise bill that partially repealed HB2. Forest is a likely candidate to challenge Cooper in 2020.
The N&O also reported Forest was able to raise around $2.5 million from one donor, Durham's Greg Lindberg, owner of private investment firm Eli Global.