Political activity at the federal, state, and local levels is highly regulated. The rules are subject to intense public scrutiny in today’s political climate, and they are constantly changing. Violating campaign finance laws, lobbying disclosure rules, or codes of ethics in North Carolina’s branches of government can bring significant criminal or civil consequences – as well as a potential torrent of negative media coverage that may do more damage to a campaign than any legal mistake.
Complying with campaign and election finance law can make or break a campaign. Therefore, it is essential to work closely with attorneys you trust. Your lawyers can help ensure that your campaign complies with applicable laws, so that you can focus on winning debates and gaining the voters’ trust.
Matters We Handle
At Blanchard, Miller, Lewis & Isley, our attorneys are well-versed in the nuances of North Carolina campaign finance regulations. As a result, we have successfully helped clients take on a number of tasks related to these laws.
We advise clients on matters that include:
- Advice on lobbying, disclosure, and ethics rules at all levels and in all branches of government.
- Representation on elections matters that end up in court or before the North Carolina State Board of Elections.
- Representing and advising clients in political matters, like recounts, contested elections, and redistricting questions.
- Litigation of matters related to political activity and expression, as well as public corruption, criminal campaign finance investigations, and other matters.
- Protecting your public reputation with a proactive approach to discretion, confidentiality, and the control of information during a conflict or crisis.
Understanding Campaigns and Election Finance in North Carolina
In North Carolina, campaign finance requirements are administered by the North Carolina State Board of Elections. In addition to administering the finance laws themselves, the State Board of Elections undertakes a wide range of reporting and administrative duties, including the maintenance of an online database that tracks candidate spending.
Complaints of wrongdoing or violations of North Carolina finance law are typically filed with the North Carolina State Board of Elections to begin the investigation process. If the Board of Elections believes that a violation has occurred, it forwards the case to the district attorney in the county where the complaint arose.
Campaigns must also meet several reporting requirements when it comes to their funding. For instance, judicial campaign committees must submit quarterly reports when their candidate is running in an even-numbered election year. Semi-annual reports are required in odd-numbered years.
In 2004, the state created the nation’s first “Voter-Owned Elections” program to fund candidates for statewide judicial elections. Candidates for positions on the North Carolina Supreme Court and the North Carolina Court of Appeals may receive a campaign grant from the Public Campaign Fund if they follow the fund’s rules, including spending limits and requirements to raise funds from a minimum number of small donors. If a privately financed challenger or other group exceeds the spending limit, candidates may also qualify for an additional grant.
In addition to meeting funding rules, candidates’ campaigns must also pay attention to rules on campaign advertising. For example, in North Carolina, all campaign ads must be approved by the candidate campaign committee’s treasurer, who must authorize placement of the ad in writing. The ads must also contain disclaimers that state who paid for the ad, and the payment must be the same for campaign ads as it is for other types of commercial ads.
These are just a few of the biggest campaign and finance issues that any candidate running in North Carolina must consider. Other local, state, and federal rules abound. Working with an experienced lawyer is essential.
Call BMLI Today
From Citizens United to local changes, the landscape of election and campaign finance law is constantly changing. The established rules regarding methods of promoting public policy and making legislative change have themselves changed.
The attorneys at Blanchard, Miller, Lewis & Isley work together closely to support each of our clients. Your campaign matters – not only to you, but to each constituent you serve. As a result, we are dedicated to providing excellent service while maintaining the highest standards of professional ethics and discretion in handling your campaign plans.