2010-02-03 - WRITTEN OPINIONS
2010-02-03. WRITTEN OPINIONS
GARY O. BARTLETT
P.O. BOX 27255
RALEIGH, NC 27611-7255
February 3, 2010
Mr. Ralph Burroughs
479 Plymouth Avenue
Winston-Salem, NC 27104
Re: Request for advisory opinion
Dear Mr. Burroughs:
I am in receipt of your letter dated December 9, 2009, in which you seek an opinion with respect to contribution solicitation legislation affecting NC General Assembly members. Your letter also seeks explanation of particular references contained in data obtained from our office. Pursuant to N.C.G.S § 163-278.23,1 will provide responses to each of your questions.
You initially state in your letter your understanding that "members of the NC House of Representatives may not solicit at any time PACs who employ lobbyists, or lobbyists, who act without PAC affiliation." Pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163-278.13B(b)(l), members or candidates for the Council of State and members and candidates for the NC General Assembly are prohibited from soliciting lobbyists and PACs that employ a lobbyist during regular sessions of the North Carolina General Assembly. Lobbyists are prohibited from giving to members and candidates for the Council of State and members and candidates for the NC General Assembly at any time. PACs that employ a lobbyist are not prohibited from contributing to members and candidates for the Council of State and the NC General Assembly at times when the NC General Assembly is not in regular session. Additionally, it is not unlawful for members and candidates for the Council of State and the NC General Assembly to solicit contributions from PACs that employ a lobbyist at times other than during regular sessions of the NC General Assembly.
The word "Lobbyist" inserted in the address line of some PACs in the data provided indicates PACs that employed a lobbyist at some time in the past. Several years ago this was an internal mechanism used by our staff to identify PACs that employ a lobbyist. That designation is no longer used as part of our internal processes. However, those notations have not been removed from our database. To avoid future confusion, we will work to remove those designations. We obtain information on lobbyists and PACs that employ a lobbyist from the NC Secretary of State's office. Therefore, during regular sessions of the NC General Assembly you can check the registered lobbyist list to see which PACs may employ a lobbyist and are therefore ineligible to contribute to your candidate. Our website links to the NC Secretary of State's registered lobbyist list and can be accessed through the Campaign Finance page at www.sboe.state.nc.us. As stated above, it would not be a violation of the campaign finance statutes for a member of the NC General Assembly to solicit contributions from PACs that employ a lobbyist at times other than when the NC General Assembly is in regular session. Your letter also asks whether it would be a breach of ethics. The opinion in this letter is limited to matters under our jurisdiction. Any questions regarding laws related to ethics should be directed to the NC Ethics Commission.
This opinion is based upon the information provided by you in your December 9, 2009 letter. If any information in that letter should change, you should consult with our office to ensure that this opinion would still be binding. Finally, this opinion will be filed with the Codifier of Rules to be published unedited in the North Carolina Register and the North Carolina Administrative Code.
Gary O. Bartlett
cc: Julian Mann, Codifier of Rules
The following state regulations pages link to this page.