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Lobbying Law: Frequently Asked Questions

What actions are prohibited by the Lobbying Law?

The crux of the Commission's enforcement authority under the Lobbying Law involves the prohibitions and restrictions set out in Article 3 of Chapter 120C which prohibits:

  • lobbyists from accepting contingency fees;
  • attempts to influence a "designated individual" by providing financial support to the designated individual's campaign or by threat of support to the candidate's opponent;
  • gifts, given directly or indirectly, to certain designated individuals by lobbyists and lobbyist principals unless an exception applies;
  • legislators, public servants and other State employees from registering as a lobbyist while in office or within 6 months of leaving their office or employment;
  • lobbyists from being appointed by a State official to certain State Boards; and
  • lobbyists from permitting certain designated individuals to use the cash or credit of the lobbyist.

G.S. 120C-300 to 305.

Filing a Complaint

Who may file a Lobbying Law complaint?

Anyone may file a complaint as long as they are willing to identify themselves and the source of their complaint information.

Against whom may a lobbying complaint be filed?

  • lobbyists, (as defined in G.S. 120C-100(10))
  • lobbyist principals, (as defined in G.S. 120C-100(11));
  • liaison personnel (as defined in G.S. 120C-100(8)); and
  • designated individuals (a legislator, legislative employee, or certain public servants).
How do I file a Lobbying Law complaint?

Complaints may be filed in written or oral form. However, complaint information must be confirmed in writing. A form for filing a complaint is available here. For complete information see the section entitled Instructions for Filing a Lobbying Law Complaint.

Are anonymous Lobbying Law complaints accepted?

No. The Commission does not accept anonymous Lobbying Law complaints.

ust the Commission receive a Lobbying Law complaint in order to initiate a complaint investigation?

No. The Commission may initiate an investigation upon the request of a Commission panel, Commission staff or a Commission member.

After a Complaint is Filed

If a Lobbying Law complaint is filed against me, will I be notified?

You will be notified if the Commission decides to initiate a complaint investigation.

What happens to a Lobbying Law complaint once filed?

Once properly filed, the Commission conducts a preliminary inquiry of the allegations and information received. If warranted, Commission staff will conduct an investigation to determine whether a violation has been established by a preponderance of the evidence.

The Commission may dismiss, decline or refer a matter to another agency as appropriate.

Are Lobbying Law complaints confidential?

Yes. Under G.S. 120C-601(c) all complaints and the materials collected in conjunction with the investigation of such complaints are confidential and subject to release only by court order.

Potential Sanctions

What are the consequences of violating the Lobbying Law?

If the Commission finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a violation occurred, sanctions may be imposed. Complaints may be resolved by settlement, subject to approval by the Commission.

Apparent violations of the Lobbying Law will be referred to the District Attorney for potential prosecution. G.S. 120C-603(a). A willful violation of any provision of Articles 2 or 3 of the Lobbying Law is a Class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted of a violation under Article 2 or 3, a lobbyist may not work as a lobbyist for a period of 2 years following the conviction.

In addition to the criminal penalties, the Commission may levy civil fines for a violation of Articles 1, 3, 5, or 7 of up to $5,000 per violation. The Secretary of State may levy fines for a violation of Articles 2, 4, or 8 of up to $5,000 per violation.