Lobbying Formal Advisory Opinions

Following is a list of lobbying formal advisory opinions issued by the State Ethics Commission in response to written requests for an advisory opinion from:

  • Prospective or registered lobbyists or lobbyist principals subject to the Lobbying Law and their counsel.
  • Former legislators and state agency employees subject to the restrictions against registering as a lobbyist within six months of employment.
  • Individuals, entities, legislators, legislative employees, and public servants who are not otherwise subject to the Lobbying Law, but who may have to report under the “Miscellaneous Reporting” requirements of Article 8 of the Lobbying Law.
  • State agencies subject to certain restrictions against using state funds to hire contract lobbyists.
  • Legislative Liaisons

The Ethics Act requires that formal advisory opinions issued by the State Ethics Commission be published within 30 days of issuance, in an edited format to protect the requester’s identity, unless the requester authorizes unedited publication.

These opinions are arranged according to the issues addressed in the opinion.

If you would like to obtain a formal advisory opinion from the Commission or are seeking informal advice from a member of the Commission staff, please refer to this link.

* In accordance with G.S. 120C-102(d), the requester has authorized the publication of an unedited version of this opinion.

LC “Law Change”: Statutory provisions interpreted in this opinion were subsequently amended by the Session Laws referenced. Therefore, portions of this advisory opinion no longer reflect existing law.

  1. The Gifts Ban & the Gifts Ban Exceptions
    1. The Indirect Gift Ban

      LC: Effective December 1, 2010, S.L. 2010-169 amended the indirect gift ban to restrict gifts knowingly given by lobbyists and lobbyist principals “with the intent that a designated individual be an ultimate recipient” (was, “the ultimate recipient”).
      L-12-002 Applicability of Lobbying Law's Gift Ban and Reporting Requirements and the Ethics Act's Gift Ban to an Event. 
      G.S. 120C-303(a)120C-402120C-403138A-32(c)-(d) S.L. 2010-169
      May 11, 2012
      L-11-004 Donation of Products, Informational Materials, "Branded Items," and Funding to a State Agency's Public Outreach Efforts and the Reporting of Those Donations
      G.S. 120C-303(a)120C-403(b)(1)120C-403(b)(5)138A-32(e)(2)138A-32(e)(6) 
      August 12, 2011
         
      L-10-002 Sponsoring Legislator and Public Servant Participation in International Trip. 
      G.S. 120C-303(a)(2)138A-32(c) and (d1)138A-32(e)(3) 138A-32(f) 
      May 14, 2010*LC
      L-09-004 Lobbyists’ and Lobbyist Principals’ In-Kind Contributions to a State Governmental Entity for a Meeting of a Regional Affiliate of a National Nonpartisan Organization.
      G.S. 120C-303(a)(2) and (b)138A-32(e)(5) 
      February 13, 2009 LC
      L-08-007 Donations to the Junior League of Raleigh for the 2009 Inaugural Ball Weekend — A Fund Raiser with Ticketed Events. 
      G.S. 120C-303(a)120C-402120C-403138A-32(c)-(d)
      November 14, 2008* LC
      L-07-007 Gift to a Non-Covered Spouse of a Public Servant — “Indirect” Gifts & Reporting Requirements. 
      G.S. 138A-32(c) and (d)120C-100(a)(12)120C-400120C-402; 120C-403 
      July 12, 2007 LC
    2. The Gifts Ban Exceptions
      L-12-003 Permissibility of Providing Food and Beverages to Organization's Advisors and Directors. 
      G.S.138A-32(e)(1)c138A-32(e)(10) - (12)
      May 11, 2012
      L-10-003 Legislative Reception Sponsored by A Lobbyist Principal — Complimentary Transportation Cannot be Provided under the G.S. 138A-32(e)(1) Food and Beverage Gift Ban Exception. 
      G.S.120C-303(a)138A-32(e)(1)c
      November 19, 2010
      L-09-003 Gathering Open to the General Public - Requisite Sign Displayed at Gathering. 
      G.S. 120C-303138A-32(e)(1)b 
      February 13, 2009*
      L-09-001 Legislative Reception and Fundraiser with Multiple Sponsors — Who is the “Person” and Who is “Associated with the Person?.”
      G.S. 120C-303138A-32(e)(1)c 
      January 16, 2009*
       

      LC: Effective August 15, 2008, S.L. 2008-213 rewrote G.S. 138A-32(E)(1), the Public Event Gift Ban Exception.

      L-07-010 Lobbyists’ and Lobbyist Principals’ Sponsorship of Events Held In Conjunction With Legislative Conferences; “Public Event” Gift Ban Exception & Reporting Requirements.
      G. S. 138A-32(e)(1)138A-3(29)120C-401-402, -403 
      November 28, 2007 LC
      L-07-009 Municipality’s Reception for Municipal Legislative Delegation — Application of Gifts Ban to Local Governmental Units — Local Governmental Officials Performing Official Duties Exempt from Lobbying Law.
      G.S. 138A-32(c);138A-32(e)(1);138A-3(29)120C-700(3) 
      June 7, 2007 See G.S. 120C-502, requiring that certain “local government liaison equivalents” register, effective January 1, 2011.
      L-07-005 Legislative Reception with Multiple Sponsors - Indirect Gifts & the “Public Event” Gift Ban Exception.
      G.S. 138A-32(e)(1)
      October 3, 2007 LC
      L-07-003 Legislative Dinner and the “Public Event” Gift Ban Exception. 
      G.S.138A-32(e)(1)138A-3(29)138A-32(e)(3)(i)
      November 28, 2007 LC
      L-07-001 “Freshman” Legislative Breakfast Not a “Public Event” or “Educational Meeting.” 
      G.S.138A-32(e)(1)138A-3(29)138A-32(e)(3)(i) 
      January, 31, 2007 LC
      L-15-003 Providing Complimentary Admission to Public Servants and Judicial Officers Attending the NCSA’s 2015 Annual Training Conference
      G.S. 138A-32(c)138A-32(e)(3)(i)138A-32(f)120C-303(e)120C-403(b)(5) 
      May 8, 2015*
      L-15-002 Providing Complimentary Admission to Public Servants and Judicial Officers Attending the NCSA’s 2015 Spring Meeting
      G.S. 138A-32(c)138A-32(e)(3)(i)138A-32(f)120C-303(e)120C-403(b)(5) 
      February 13, 2015*
      L-11-003 Sponsoring Legislator and Public Servant Participation in International Trip - Global Leaders Program to China
      G.S. 120C-303(a)138A-32(e)(3)(i)
      August 12, 2011*
      L-11-002 Paying Expenses of Legislators and Public Servants to Participate in International Trip - "Learning From Finland"
      G.S. 120C-303(a)138A-32(e)(3)(i)
      August 12, 2011*
      L-11-001 Providing Admission and Complimentary Food and Beverages to Legislators and Public Servants Attending Conference
      G.S. 120C-303(a)138A-32(e)(3)(i)138A-32(e)(3)(ii)
      August 12, 2011
      L-10-002 Sponsoring Legislator and Public Servant Participation in International Trip. 
      G.S. 120C-303(a)(2)138A-32(c) and (d1)138A-32(e)(3)138A-32(f)
      May 14, 2010*
      L-09-012 Application of the Educational Meeting Gift Ban Exception to International Trip Sponsored by Lobbyist Principals and Others. 
      G.S. 120C-303(a) and (b)G.S. 138A-32(e)(3)(i) 
      November 13, 2009*
      L-09-009 Application of the Educational Meeting Gift Ban Exception to a Rural North Carolina Study Tour.
      G.S. 138A-32(c)138A-32(e)(3)(i) 
      August 14, 2009
      L-09-007 Permissibility of Providing Free Registration to NCSEA Forum.
      G.S. 120C-303(a)138A-32(e)(3)(i)
      April 24, 2009*
      L-08-006 Lobbyist Principals and Others Sponsoring Legislator and Public Servant Participation in International Trip & the “Educational Meeting” Gift Ban Exception.
      G.S. 120C-303(a); 138A-32(c)138A-32(e)(3)(i)120C-403(b)
      November 14, 2008*
      L-08-005 Legislative Leaders Healthcare Retreat & the “Educational Meeting” Gift Ban Exception.
      G.S. 120C-303138A-32(e)(3)(i)120C-403(b)
      November 14, 2008
      L-07-012 International Study Trip & the “Educational Meeting” Gift Ban Exception.
      G.S. 120C-303(a) and (b)138A-32(e)(3)
      October 29, 2007
      1. Receptions, Dinners, and Other Food and Beverage Events

      2. Reasonable Actual Expenses To Attend Meetings, Including Educational Meetings

      3. Other Gifts Ban Exceptions and Safe Harbors
        L-15-001 Sexual Favors or Sexual Acts as a Gift or “Thing of Value” 
        G.S. 138A-24(a)(3)138A-26138A-27138A-22(a)138A-21
        February 13, 2015*
        L-13-002 Lobbyist Giving Event Tickets to Designated Individual with Whom Lobbyist Has Personal Relationship 
        G.S. 138A-32(e)(10)120C-402(b)(4)120C-303(a)120C-100 (a)(2)120C-100(a)(12)a120C-403(b)(5)138A-32(c)May 10, 2013
        L-10-003 Legislative Reception Sponsored by One Lobbyist Principal – Complementary Transportation Will Not Be “Generally Available to the General Public or All Other State Employees” and Cannot Be Provided under the G.S. 138A-32(e)(6) Exception. 
        G.S.120C-303(a)138A-32(e)(6) 
        November 19, 2010
        L-09-004 Lobbyists’ and Lobbyist Principals’ In-Kind Contributions to a State Governmental Entity for a Meeting of a Regional Affiliate of a National Nonpartisan Organization — Gift to the State Exception.
        G.S. 138A-32(e)(5); 120C-303(b)
        February 13, 2009 LC—See indirect gifts discussion
        L-08-001 Lobbyists’ and Lobbyist Principals’ Donations to a Nonpartisan State, Regional, National, or International Organization and the Reporting of Such Donations.
        G.S. 120C-303(d)120C-403(b)(1)120C-401(b1) and (b2)
        February 27, 2008* LC—See indirect gifts discussion
        L-07-006 Lobbyist Giving Legislator a Free Ride; Gift Ban Exception for Personal Relationship and Reporting Obligations.
        G.S. 138A-32(e)(10)120C-401(b)120C-402(b)
        September 12, 2007
  2. Lobbying and Registration Requirements
    1. L-15-001 Sexual Favors or Sexual Acts as a Gift or “Thing of Value”
      G.S. 138A-24(a)(3)138A-26138A-27138A-22(a)138A-21
      February 13, 2015*
      L-14-001 The Application of the Lobbying Law's "Cooling Off" Period to Former Legislative Employee 

      November 14, 2014
      L-13-001 Law Firm Contracting with Employee of State Board to Provide Non-Lobbying Consulting Services to the Board upon Retirement 
      G. S. 120C-304(c); 120C-100(a)(8)120C-500120C-501(b), (c), and (d)120C-700(4)
      February 10, 2012
      L-11-005 The Application of the Lobbying Law's "Cooling Off" Period to Former Legislators and the Local Government Liaison Equivalent Exemption
      G.S. 120C-304(a)(2)120C-501(a)120C-502(b)120C-700(3) 
      August 12, 2011
      L-10-004 Payment for Lobbying and Reimbursement of Actual Travel Expenses: Apartment Lease
      G.S. 120C-100(a)(9)120C-100(a)(10)b. and c.; and 120C-100(a)(11k)
      December 17, 2010

       

      L-09-006 Association Employing/Retaining Lobbyist is Lobbyist Principal, Not the Individual Members of the Association.
      G.S. 120C-100(a)(11)120C-206120C-207
      April 24, 2009
      L-09-005 Executive Action and Executive Lobbying.
      G.S. 120C-100(a)(3) and (a)(9)120C-100(a)(10)120C-200120C-201120C-206120C-207
      April 24, 2009
      L-07-0011 Members of State Board Lobbying Members of Congress are not “Liaison Personnel.” 
      G.S. 120C-500(a),(b), and (c) 
      October 3, 2007
      L-07-0004 Designated Individuals Acting in Their Official Capacity Do Not Need to Register as “Liaison Personnel.”
      G.S 120C-700
      May 18, 2007
      L-07-0002 Designated Individuals Acting in Their Official Capacity Do Not Need to Register as “Liaison Personnel.”
      G.S 120C-700
      May 18, 2007
  3. Lobbyist, Lobbyist Principals and Liaison Reporting Requirement
    1. Gifts Reporting
      L-13-002 Lobbyist Giving Event Tickets to Designated Individual with Whom Lobbyist Has Personal Relationship 
      G.S. 138A-32(e)(10)120C-402(b)(4)120C-303(a)120C-100 (a)(2)120C-100(a)(12)a120C-403(b)(5)138A-32(c)

       

      May 10, 2013
      L-11-004 Donation of Products, Informational Materials, "Branded Items," and Funding to a State Agency's Public Outreach Efforts and the Reporting of Those Donations
      G.S. 120C-303(a)120C-403(b)(1)120C-403(b)(5)138A-32(e)(2)138A-32(e)(6) 
      August 12, 2011
      L-09-008 Reporting of Lobbyists’ and Lobbyist Principals’ In–Kind Contributions for the 2009 Southern Legislative Conference Annual Meeting.
      G.S. 138A-32(e)(15)120C-402(b)120C-403(b)120C-401(b1) and (b2)
      August 14, 2009*
      L-09-003 Gathering Open to the General Public – Required Sign Displayed at Gathering.
      G.S. 120C-303138A-32(e)(1)b120C-403(b)(1) and (b)(5)120C-401(b) and (b1)
      February 13, 2009*
      L-09-002 Reporting of Gifts Given by Multiple Sponsors at Legislative Reception and Fundraiser.
      G.S. 120C-400120C-401120C-403120C-800(a)
      February 13, 2009*
      L-08-006 Lobbyist Principals and Others Sponsoring Legislator and Public Servant Participation in International Trip, the “Educational Meeting” Gift Ban Exception & Reporting.
      G.S. 120C-303(a); 138A-32(c)138A-32(e)(3)(i)120C-403(b)120C-401120C-800(a)120C-800(e)(5)
      November 14, 2008*
    2. Reporting of Non-Gift Reportable Expenditures
      L-09-008 Reporting of Lobbyists’ and Lobbyist Principals’ In–Kind Contributions for the 2009 Southern Legislative Conference Annual Meeting.
      G.S. 138A-32(e)(15)120C-402(b)120C-403(b)(1)
      August 14, 2009*
      L-09-003 Gathering Open to the General Public — Requisite Sign Displayed at Gathering. 
      G.S. 120C-303G.S. 138A-32(e)(1)b120C-100(a)(12)120C-403(b)(1) and (b)(5); and 120C-401(b) and (b1)
      February 13, 2009*
      L-09-002 Reporting of Reportable Expenditures for Legislative Reception.
      G.S. 120C-100(a)(12)120C-400120C-401120C-403
      February 13, 2009*
      L-08-001 Lobbyists’ and Lobbyist Principals’ Donations to a Nonpartisan State, Regional National, or International Organization and the Reporting of Such Donations.
      G.S. 120C-100(a)(12); 120C-402(b)(1)120C-403(b)(1)120C-401(b1) and (b2)
      February 27, 2008* LC
      L-07-010 Lobbyists’ and Lobbyist Principals’ Sponsoring Events Held In Conjunction With Legislative Conferences; “Public Event” Gift Ban Exception & Reporting Requirements.
      G. S. 138A-32(e)(1); 138A-3(29); and 120C-401-402, and -403 
      November 28, 2007 LC See indirect gifts ban exception. See also 138A-32(e)(3)(iii).
    3. Reporting of Payments for Lobbying and Lobbying Services (Compensation) 

      LC: Effective January 1, 2011, S.L. 2010-169 amended the Lobbying Law’s reporting requirements applicable to payments for lobbying and lobbying services. See G.S. 120C-403(d) and (e).

       

      L-10-001 Determining What Services are For the Purpose of Lobbying — Application of the “But For” Test.
      G.S. 120C-100(a)(11k) and 120C-403(b)(3)
      February 12, 2010 LC
      L-09-010 Lobbyist Principal Reporting of “Payment for Services” — Establishing the “But For” Test.
      G.S. 120C-100(a)(11k) and 120C-403(b)(3)
      September 18, 2009 LC


      LC: Effective August 15, 2008, S.L. 2008-213 amended the Lobbying Law’s payment for services reporting requirements to exclude reimbursement of actual travel, administrative expenses, or subsistence.
      L-08-004 Responsibilities and Requirements for Reporting Payments for Lobbying.
      G.S. 120C-402120C-403(b)(3)
      November 14, 2008 LC
      L-08-003 Reporting Compensation.
      G.S. 120C-403(b)
      May 9, 2008 LC
      L-08-002 Reporting Compensation. 
      G.S. 120C-403(b)
      May 9, 2008 LC
  4. Miscellaneous
    L-13-003 The Application of the Lobbying Law’s “Cooling Off Period” to a Legislator’s Employment by a Private Company
    G.S. 120C-304(a)120C-100(a)(10)120C-100(a)(9)
    November 1, 2013
    L-13-001 La Firm Contracting with Employee of State Board to Provide Non-Lobbying Consulting Services to the Board upon Retirement 
    G. S. 120C-304(c); 120C-100(a)(8)120C-500120C-501(b), (c), and (d)120C-700(4)
    February 10, 2012
    L-12-001 Registered Lobbyist Filing Notice of Candidacy and Running for State Legislative Office.
    G. S. 120C-304(a)
    February 10, 2012
    L-11-005 The Application of the Lobbying Law's "Cooling Off" Period to Former Legislators and the Local Government Liaison Equivalent Exemption
    G.S. 120C-304(a)(2)120C-501(a)120C-502(b)120C-700(3)
    August 12, 2011
    L-09-011 Restriction Against State Agency Using State Funds for Contract Lobbyist/Liaison Personnel Inapplicable to Local Management Entity; LME’s Contract Lobbyist Not Exempt from Lobbying Law.
    G.S.120C-100(a)(10)120C-500(b)120C-700(3)
    November 13, 2009
    L-08-001 Contributions to Non-Partisan Organizations.
    G. S. 120C-303
    July 29, 2008
    L-07-0008 Lobbyists Contributing to a Political Action Committee (“PAC”). 
    G.S. 120C-302
    May 25, 2007