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Informal Advice, Formal Advisory Opinions & Recommended Legislative Advisory Opinions

The State Ethics Commission and its staff are authorized to issue advice to those covered and regulated by the State Government Ethics Act and the Lobbying Law as to the meaning and application of these laws and the individual’s or entity’s compliance with these laws.

All advice issued is prospective and must relate to real or reasonably anticipated facts and circumstances. All requests for advice, advice issued, and information related to requests for advice are confidential and will not be disclosed unless authorized by the individual or entity requesting advice.

Previously issued formal advisory opinions can be reviewed by selecting the following links:

What Types of Advice Are Available? pdf

Informal Advice:

  • is issued by the staff of the State Ethics Commission.
  • is confidential, unless confidentiality is waived by the requester.
  • is prospective.
  • relates to real or reasonably anticipated facts and circumstances.
  • may be oral or written, depending on the request.
  • is not published.
  • is not a public record.
  • does not provide immunity to the requester.
  • does not preclude the requester from subsequently requesting a formal advisory opinion.

Formal Advisory Opinions:

  • are issued by the State Ethics Commission.
  • are prospective.
  • relate to real or reasonably anticipated facts and circumstances.
  • are confidential, unless confidentiality is waived by the requester.
  • opinions issued under the Lobbying Law are provided to the Secretary of State’s office in an unedited format on a confidential basis.
  • are not public records.
  • are edited to protect the requester’s identity and published in an edited format on the Commission’s website within 30 days of issuance.
  • if the advice is followed, provides the requester with limited immunity from investigation by the State Ethics Commission and the Secretary of State and, when applicable, adverse action by the requester’s employing entity.

Recommended Legislative Advisory Opinions:

  • are issued by the State Ethics Commission.
  • are prospective.
  • relate to real or reasonably anticipated facts and circumstances.
  • are confidential, unless confidentiality is waived by the requester.
  • are provided to the Legislative Ethics Committee in an unedited format on a confidential basis.
  • are published in an edited format once the Legislative Ethics Committee rules on the opinion.
  • are not public records.
  • if the advice is followed, provide the requester limited immunity from the State Ethics Commission, the Secretary of State, and the house of which the legislator is a member until adopted, modified, or overruled by the Legislative Ethics Committee.

Who Can Request Advice?

  • Ethics Informal Advice – Public servants and legislative employees, their supervisors and legal counsel, individuals responsible for their appointment, and State agency ethics liaisons, and legislators.
  • Ethics Formal Advisory Opinions – Public servants and legislative employees, their supervisors and legal counsel, individuals responsible for their appointment, and State agency ethics liaisons.
  • Lobbying Informal Advice and Lobbying Formal Advisory Opinions – Any individual, entity, organization, association, group of persons acting together, state agency, or governmental unit affected by the Lobbying Law.
  • Recommended Legislative Advisory Opinions – Legislators

How Does One Request Advice?

Informal advice may be requested by:

  • Telephone: (919) 814-3600 – caller should ask to speak with a member of the Advice Unit.
  • E-Mail: ethics.commission@doa.nc.gov
  • Fax: (919) 715-1644
  • Mail: Advice Unit, State Ethics Commission, 1324 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27601
  • Hand delivery of written request: State Ethics Commission, Advice Unit, 424 North Blount Street, Raleigh, North Carolina 27601

Formal Advisory Opinions and Recommended Legislative Advisory Opinions must be requested by:

  • E-Mail: ethics.commission@doa.nc.gov
  • Fax: (919) 715-1644
  • Mail: Advice Unit, State Ethics Commission, 1324 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27601
  • Hand delivery of written request: State Ethics Commission, Advice Unit, 424 North Blount Street, Raleigh, North Carolina 27601

What information should be provided in the request for advice?

  • Name of the requester and of the entity represented or involved
  • Type of advice requested (e.g. informal (oral or written) or formal)
  • The facts and circumstances pertaining to the specific situation
  • Specific questions or issues on which the requester is seeking advice

What other information should be provided with the request?

  • Relevant documentation, such as a notice of or invitation to an event, or the agenda for a meeting.

How long will it take to receive the advice?

Length of time from the date the request is received until the advice is provided will vary depending on a number of factors such as:

  • Completeness of the information provided with the request
  • Complexity of the facts and circumstances underlying the request
  • Type of advice sought (e.g., informal or formal)
  • Format of the advice sought (e.g., oral or written)
  • Number of issues raised
  • Novelty and complexity of the questions and issues raised
  • Number and type of other pending requests

Requested advice is provided as timely as possible pursuant to all applicable factors.