NC’s political watchdogs: The State Ethics Commission’s strengths and weaknesses

“The [North Carolina State Ethics Commission] is responsible for fielding and dealing with complaints about alleged violations for persons covered by state ethics laws, including state legislators, legislative employees, judges and justices, district attorneys, clerks of court, a host of other public servants and lobbyists.” -Jon Elliston via Carolina Public Press


“The informal opinions are issued by the commission’s staff and are confidential. They can be written or oral, and they provide the requester no immunity for future violations. The formal opinions are issued by the commission and must relate to “reasonably anticipated facts and circumstances,” as the commission puts it. And they can provide the requester with some immunity in the future.” -Jon Elliston

03 State Ethics Commission advisory opinions

“Just what kind of ethics advice do North Carolina’s public officials seek? In 2012, a typical year, exceptions to the gift ban law were the chief subject of ethics queries. The graphic below shows the spread of concerns raised in advisory requests.” – Jon Elliston


“The commission was created by the N.C. General Assembly in 2006 after a wave of ethics scandals rocked state government, and began operating in 2007. It replaced a previous Board of Ethics, in existence since 1977, that had a tiny staff and limited oversight powers. The eight-member commission currently has a professional staff of 13 employees and a $1.2 million annual budget.” – Jon Elliston

04 State Ethics Commission members

For complete story, visit Carolina Public Press.


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