Ethically-Challenged: North Carolina Ethics Commission

Ethics, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary, has the following meaning:

rules of behavior based on ideas about what is morally good and bad.

Its secondary definition is this:

ethics : an area of study that deals with ideas about what is good and bad behavior : a branch of philosophy dealing with what is morally right or wrong.

I include these definitions of ethics because, and I suppose we should not be surprised by this at all, some branches of government have no clue about ethics or “what is morally right or wrong”.

Take the North Carolina Ethics Commission... these buffoons issued an “opinion” that literally turns the definition of ethics upside down.

In response to a request from Joal H. Broun, the Lobbying Compliance Director for the Department of the Secretary of State Lobbying Compliance Division, the North Carolina State Ethics Commission responded with the following:

You have asked whether consensual “sexual favors or sexual acts” between a lobbyist and a designated individual constitute a gift or “thing of value” that would trigger the gift ban and reporting requirements of the Lobbying Law and whether those activities would fall within the definition of “goodwill lobbying” and trigger the Lobbying Law’s registration obligation.

This opinion was adopted by the State Ethics Commission at its February 13, 2015, meeting.

Section 120C-303(a)(1) of the Lobbying Law restricts a registered lobbyist from giving a gift to a designated individual unless a gift ban exception applies. “Gift” is defined as “[a]nything of monetary value given or received without valuable consideration....” G.S. 138A-3(15).

A lobbyist must report certain “reportable expenditures,” defined to include gifts and “things of value” greater than $10 per day given to a designated individual or immediate family member.

Consensual sexual relationships do not have monetary value and therefore are not reportable as gifts or “reportable expenditures made for lobbying” for purposes of the Lobbying Law’s expenditure reporting provisions.

However, a lobbyist or lobbyist principal’s provision of paid prostitution services by a third party to a designated individual could constitute a gift or thing of value, albeit an illegal one, depending on the particular facts.

This would appear to give lobbyists, at least in North Carolina, the go-ahead to offer sex to government officials, as it would not be considered a “gift” and would therefore not be a reportable item. Even offering a government official a paid prostitute may not be deemed a “gift” in the right circumstances, they say.

Uh huh.

One newspaper, the Beaufort Observer, offered an editorial that made it clear they disagreed with the state’s ethically-challenged ethics commission.

“You can hire yourself out as a lobbyist and pull down big bucks for the job of getting special favors done for your clients and those clients are more than willing to pay big bucks for your service. And many of those clients don’t really care how you get them those favors from bureaucrats or elected officials as you produce what they want.”

So we can now “legally” ply our elected representatives with sex?

Isn’t that precisely the sort of behaviour a so-called “ethics commission” ought to prevent?

Not in North Carolina.

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