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Hats off to WRAL and Mark Binker, one of the station’s investigative reporters, who put together an online (and searchable!) database of statements of economic interest for the public to use.

The ethics forms, referred to as SEIs in the jargon-laden halls of state government, are required to be filed out by elected state leaders and appointments to major boards and commissions. They came about following the legislative scandals in 2005 and 2006 that culminated with the imprisonment of former Democratic House Speaker Jim Black, and are intended to let the public know what personal financial interests state leaders have.

The forms are public, but the N.C. Ethics Commission has yet to post them online to be searched easily.  Last week, I had this post mentioning that the Independent in Raleigh had requested and posted the SEIs in an article of their own.

The WRAL database takes it a few steps further, with entries of 180 state lawmakers and statewide officials included and put in easy-to-read digital form. Read More

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The Independent Weekly, the alt weekly for the Triangle, gathered up all the statements of economic interest for Gov. Pat McCrory’s major administrative appointees, and posted them online for all to see.

Go here to launch your own DIY hunt.(Links to the document are on the right side of the page.)

Whether or not any of the information is juicy really is in the eye of the beholder but there are some interesting tidbits.

As the Indy pointed out, McCrory’s budget director and Republican money-man Art Pope invests in the nation’s largest oil and natural gas royalty trust in the United States, BP Prudhoe Bay Royalty Trust) while the the head of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources Susan Kluttz owns property with her husband on the exclusive Figure Eight Island and Transportation Secretary Tony Tata’s wife works for the Old Chatham Golf Club, an exclusive, invite-only golf club.

The statements of economic interest (SEIs, as they’re known to public records nerds like myself) are collected by the N.C. Ethics Commission as part of the sweeping changes following the scandals that befell the Democratic-led legislature in 2006. Read More

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Harold BrubakerAs anyone who happened to glance at the front page of this past Sunday’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer probably noticed, former North Carolina House Speaker and Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Brubaker has gotten through the almost meaningless six-month “cooling off period” during which former legislators are barred from lobbying their old chums. He now appears ready to make a big splash as a high-powered lobbyist.

Already, Brubaker has signed up nine separate clients for Brubaker and Associates for the 2013 legislative session that begins in earnest tomorrow. Some lobbyists represent more “principals” than this, however, so it wouldn’t be surprising if this number grew in the days to come.

Most of the nine are about who you would expect: insurance companies, doctor groups, the beer and wine lobby and, as is frequently the case for big shot “lobsters,” the requisite nonprofit client. One client that many would not have predicted, however, is this one: Read More

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Thom TillisIn North Carolina, state laws written in the post-Jim Black era (see in particular G.S. 138A-32) make it illegal for lobbyists to give anything of value to state legislators. As a general matter, the state has a “no cup of coffee” rule; lobbyists can’t buy legislators a round of golf or a lunch or even a mocha latte.

Unfortunately, there remain lots of ways around this prohibition in which lobbyists can funnel cash to powerful politicians. And make no mistake, many politicians aren’t shy about explaining this to lobbyists.

Consider the latest fundraising solicitation from House Speaker Thom Tillis (pictured at left) and the North Carolina Republican House Caucus.

After inviting all-comers to pay up to $10,000 to get 12 admission tickets and a special photo opportunity with House leaders at the group’s 2013 “Opening Day Celebration” tomorrow, the solicitation says the following: Read More

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The NC House and Senate gather in Raleigh Wednesday for a one-day meeting to elect officers and adopt rules for the 2013 session. The organizational gathering will allow the members to “hit the ground running” when they reconvene on January 30th.

The one-day session was also part of the motivation for Pat McCrory taking the oath of office last Saturday. McCrory wanted to officially be North Carolina’s Governor when lawmakers came to town.

Jane Pinsky with NC Coalition for Government and Lobbying Reform says while the capital city is filled with plenty of new political faces, she is hopeful there will be greater transparency in both Gov. McCrory’s administration and the new General Assembly.

Pinsky shared her thoughts on News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon. Click below for a portion of that radio interview, or download a podcast of the full segment from the NC Policy Watch website:

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