January 9, 2012 •
North Carolina Lobbyist Fine Overturned
NORTH CAROLINA: Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway has cleared former lobbyist Don Beason of misconduct, finding parts of North Carolina’s lobbying reform law are ambiguous as applied and the secretary of state overreached in fining Beason.
The court held that Beason does not have to pay the $30,000 fine imposed on him. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall fined Beason a record-setting $111,000 in 2010, an amount that was later reduced, for failing to make required disclosures about companies he was representing.
Judge Ridgeway stated North Carolina law defines a lobbyist as someone who communicates directly with legislators or their employees, but there was no evidence Beason directly contacted anyone on behalf of the companies he represented. Additionally, because the law gave the state ethics commission the authority to interpret the act and the secretary of state the power to administer it, Marshall overstepped her authority in interpreting the act and fining Beason.
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