What is lobbying?
Lobbying happens when you try to influence government action. For example, if you call your legislators to ask them to change a law, that’s lobbying. It’s also lobbying when you call high level people in the executive branch to try and get them to take an action.
I hear bad things in the news about lobbying and lobbyists. Why is it ok to lobby?
Both the U.S. Constitution and the North Carolina Constitution include provisions that make lobbying okay. For example, the NC Constitution says that citizens have a right to:
- Contact their representatives and
- To apply to the General Assembly for redress of grievances.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has provisions about:
- Freedom of speech
- Petitioning the government for redress of grievances.
Do you regulate all lobbying?
No. We only regulate a portion of lobbying. We regulate paid lobbyists who lobby “designated individuals” in State government. Generally, designated individuals are:
- Legislators and legislative employees
- Policy making employees in the executive branch
The Ethics Commission keeps a list of designated individuals. Click here for its website.
What is a lobbyist principal?
A lobbyist principal is the one who pays the lobbyist to lobby. A lobbyist principal can be an individual or a group or a company.
Does everyone who tries to influence the General Assembly or State government have to register as a lobbyist?
No. You only have to register if:
- You are paid to lobby and
- You lobby certain people called “designated individuals”. See Chapter 138A.
How can I find out who is lobbying in State government?
We have all the registration information about people who are registered to lobby on the website.
Can I find out what subjects a lobbyist is lobbying on?
Yes. When a lobbyist registers there’s a place on the form to check which subjects he or she will be lobbying on. To find that out, you need to find the lobbyist’s registration form on our website. Look on the 2nd page of the form for “General Subjects on Which the Lobbyist Intends to Lobby”.
Can I find out who a lobbyist is lobbying?
Lobbyists are not required to file a document saying who they are lobbying. If you look at the lobbyists’ reports, you may find names of individuals or groups that the lobbyist has spent money on. That is a clue to whom the lobbyist is lobbying.
Can a State agency pay a lobbyist?
State agencies cannot pay outside lobbyists. They can make lobbying part of their employees’ duties. Those employees have to register as liaisons.
If I don’t have a lobbyist, how can I find out what’s going on in the General Assembly?
You can always talk to your legislator. The main official source of information is the General Assembly’s website. It has lots of information such as the text of bills.
How can I contact my legislator?
General Assembly’s website. If you don’t know who represents you, click on “Who represents me? If you already know who represents you, click on “View member info” and select the name of your legislator.
How can I find the names and contact information for other elected officials?
You can look them up in our Directory of State and Local Government Officials:
How can I file a complaint about a possible lobbying violation?
You can download our complaint form.
Can I file a complaint without giving you my name?
Yes, you can file an anonymous complaint. However, if you file an anonymous complaint, we may not open an investigation because we can’t contact you to get information we need.
Will my information be confidential if I file a complaint?
Yes. Chapter 120C requires that a complaint is kept confidential unless a court orders disclosure.
How long does my registration as a lobbyist last?
Your registration is only good for the calendar year in which you register.
Can I register even if I may not be required to?
Yes, you can register even if you are not required to. But, if you do register, you will have to comply with all the laws and rules that apply to other lobbyists.
How can I find out who is lobbying the federal government?
We do not keep those records. You can search for federal government lobbyists on the Federal Lobbying Disclosure website.
I am going to lobby the federal government. Do I have to register?
You do not have to register with us. You may have to register with the federal government.