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Instructions for Filing a Lobbying Complaint

If you believe that you have information to support a finding that an individual governed by the Lobbying Law may have engaged in one of the prohibited acts, you may follow the instructions below for filing a complaint.

Complaint Form

Complaints may be in written or oral form.

  • Written. A complaint form for filing a complaint is available here or by contacting the Commission at (919) 814-3600. Written complaints do not have to be on the form. A complainant may provide a letter or other written statement of the complaint details.
  • Oral. All oral complaints must be confirmed in writing by Commission staff.

Contents of Complaints

In general, a complaint should contain the following:

  • Contact information for the Complainant;the Ethics Commission does not accept anonymous complaints.
  • The nature of the allegation. You should state the nature of the allegation and specific facts indicating a violation of the Lobbying Law (G.S. 120C).
  • The basis upon which the Complainant believes the allegations to be true, including specific facts indicating that a potential violation over which the Commission has jurisdiction has occurred;
  • The name and affiliation of the lobbyist, lobbyist principal, legislator, former legislator, public servant, former public servant, or other individual(s) subject to the Lobbying Law ("Respondent"), against whom the complaint is filed.

Actions on Complaints

Ethics Commission staff and/or members of the Commission may take general notice of available information even if not formally provided to the Commission in the form of a complaint, and the Commission may initiate an investigation on its own motion.

Once a complaint is properly filed, the Commission will conduct a preliminary inquiry of the allegations and information received; and, if warranted will conduct an investigation of the matter. The Commission may also dismiss, decline or refer a matter, as appropriate.

If the matter is investigated, the Commission will determine whether a violation has been established by a preponderance of the evidence. If the Commission does not find by a preponderance of the evidence that a violation occurred, the complaint will be dismissed.

If the Commission finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a violation occurred, sanctions may be imposed. Commission staff will offer to engage in settlement discussions with Respondent. However, at any time, the Respondent and/or his or her legal counsel may meet by mutual consent with Commission staff to discuss the possibility of settlement of Articles 1, 3, 5, and 7 matters.

Potential Sanctions

Apparent violations of Articles 2 or 3 will be referred to the District Attorney for potential prosecution. G.S. 120C-603. A willful violation of any provision of Articles 2 or 3 of the Lobbying Law is a Class 1 misdemeanor, except as provided in the Law. If convicted of a violation under those provisions, 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 may levy fines for a violation of Articles 2, 4, or 8 of up to $5,000 per violation.

Confidentiality

All lobbying complaints filed with the Commission and the Secretary are confidential. G.S. 120C-600(c) and 601(c). Specifically, all complaints and the materials collected in conjunction with the investigation of complaints under the Lobbying Law are confidential and subject to release only by court order.

FAQs

For more information about Lobbying Law Complaints, please see our Frequently Asked Questions section.

Submission:

You must submit your signed original complaint to:

State Ethics Commission
1324 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1324

Questions regarding filing a complaint should be directed to:

Carson Carmichael
State Ethics Commission
(919) 814-3600
E-mail: ethics.commission@doa.nc.gov

All complaints received by the Commission are confidential and may not be disclosed by the Commission to third parties. However, the person against whom you have filed a complaint will be provided with a copy and given an opportunity to respond.