Helping a company get incentives?
You don't necessarily have to register as a lobbyist.
A spokeswoman for the N.C. Department of Commerce said that under their reading of state laws, lobbying does not include assisting companies applying for financial incentives with the One North Carolina or JDIG programs.
"'Lobbying' is the attempt to influence legislative or executive action," Kathy Neal wrote in an e-mail to Dome. "'Executive action' specifically does not include a person (or the person's consultant) communicating with a public servant with respect to applying for a determination of eligibility (such as for incentives), or making an inquiry about or asserting a benefit, claim, right, entitlement, payment, etc."
The N.C. Secretary of State's office, which is the arbiter for lobbying registration, said that it would depend on the consultant's role. In some cases, the registration would not become public until after the incentives are approved.
That interpretation did not sit well with Bob Orr, a former state Supreme Court justice who is fighting the state's incentives system through the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law.
"If they don't have to register as a lobbyist, they ought to," he said. "It would seem to me if you're negotiating to get taxpayer money from a government agency, then that's lobbying."