Lobbying

Lobbyists Can Legally Screw Politicians in North Carolina, Says Ethics Commission

No, they don't mean that figuratively.

|

Edgardo Balduccio/Flickr

Sex acts provided to politicians "to lobby or to develop goodwill" do not violate state ethics policies, nor must this activity be disclosed, ruled the North Carolina Ethics Commission. 

Under North Carolina law, lobbyists must report gifts and "things of value" worth more than $10 per day given to someone covered by the state ethics act or their family. But "consensual sexual relationships do not have monetary value and therefore are not reportable as gifts or 'reportable expenditure made for lobbying,'" stated the commission in its opinion, a response to a formal inquiry from the state's Lobbying Compliance Commission. The inquiry was made in a "largely hypothetical context," the ethics commission notes.

"Opinions issued by the Ethics Commission are generally a good deal more banal, dealing with subjects such as under what circumstances it is legal for state officials to accept scholarships to conferences," North Carolina's WRAL.com reports.

Joal Broun, the Secretary of State's lobbying compliance director, declined to comment on why she requested the ethics opinion, deferring questions to the Secretary of State's spokeswoman Liz Proctor. Proctor said that a private attorney posed the question to the Secretary of State's Office last in 2014. "We agreed that the question needed to be decided," she said. Therefore, the office submitted the question to the Ethics Commission.

[…] WRAL News obtained a copy of the four-page request for an opinion from another source. Parts of it are graphic, describing specific sexual acts that might be at issue, but it does not implicate a particular set of people or specify a particular set of facts.

The request for an opinion asks five specific questions of the ethics commission, including (emphasis mine): 

  • Do sexual favors or sexual acts that a person provides to a designated individual to lobby or to develop goodwill or both on behalf of another, trigger the registration obligation? 
  • Are sexual favors or sexual acts that a lobbyist or a lobbyist principal provides not for the purpose of lobbying a gift as defined by the Ethics Act that must be reported? 
  • Is a designated individual who receives sexual favors or sexual acts that a lobbyist or a lobbyist principal provides outside North Carolina obligated to report such sexual favors or sexual acts as required by N.C.G.S. § 120C-800?

Note that the lobbying commission isn't just asking about personal relationships that happen to develop between lobbyists and politicians but lobbyists providing sex to politicians as a form of lobbying. That's A-OK, apparently. "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," the commission added.

Got that? Lobbyists paying for prostitution for politicians? Must be reported. Lobbyists secretly engaging in prostitution with politicians? No big thing. 

But perhaps the ethics commission is just being realistic. As Olivia Nuzzi writes at The Daily Beast: "While the idea of lobbyists and the people they lobby engaging in sexual relationships certainly seems ill-advised, it's not clear why anyone would think the commission declaring it legal would have any impact."

NEXT: Kennedy is Skeptical, Roberts is Mum: What We Know About Today's Arguments in the Supreme Court's Obamacare Subsidies Case

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “Our dynamic lobbying firm is looking to hire new ‘outreach’ personnel to work with the NC Legislature … prior sex worker experience a plus…”

    1. What are the, um, perks?

      1. Banging members of the NC Legislature is definitely not gonna fall in the perk column.

  2. If cops can bang hookers, why can’t politicians bang lobbyists?

    1. Too bad it’s still illegal to bang-bang politicians.

  3. Got that? Lobbyists paying for prostitution for politicians? Must be reported. Lobbyists secretly engaging in prostitution with politicians? No big thing.

    Cut out the middleman … um, middlepersyn.

    1. I mean, I appreciate that ENB wants legal prostitution, but this decision seems glass half full to me. It would be way worse if they ruled that sexual relationships had to be registered. Victory for freedom of association and freedom of (pillow) speech.

      1. Sometimes silly news is just silly news.

        1. And to think, I lost my career for banging the woman that stalked me for a year before I knew she existed! But, I got a devoted wife out of the deal, who isn’t driven by the lust for money!

  4. “The inquiry was made in a “largely hypothetical context,” the ethics commission notes.”

    Yeah, that’s really plausible.

  5. “Lobby me! Lobby me harder!”

    I just thought I’d get that joke out of the way lest some pervert use it.

  6. Brings new meaning to the phrase: “I don’t need sex, I get fucked by the government everyday.”

    1. Politician to charity worker outside store: “I already donated at the office.”

  7. As if sex workers don’t have it hard enough as it is, now prostitutes risk being slandered as lobbyists?

  8. So the government shuts down MyRedBook and SilkRoad, which means no hookers and blow for us.

    But they sure can get 1/2 of that legally for themselves!

    Some animals are more equal than others.

  9. To be honest, this is actually a surprisingly open-minded ruling. It’s saying that consensual sexual acts aren’t something you can price out and they’re between two consenting adults, so there’s nothing they can do or have to say about it. If you look past the “oh noes lobbyists can bang politicians for favors” part (which some almost assuredly do already), it’s actually more like “oh noes the state is actually keeping its nose out of some personal adult business”.

    Which…is a good thing, if you think about it. But of course everyone is going to freak out over “lobbyist” and “sex” instead.

    1. While true it’s incredibly hypocritical for the state to turn a blind eye to this and rule prostitution as illicit.

      1. The state is endlessly hypocritical. It’s still nice to see it keep its nose out of something. I mean, it’s not lost on me that it’s keeping its nose out of the powerful people within it getting sexual favors from people who want things from them, but even so, it sets a precedent. That I’m sure the state will ignore when it’s applied to prostitution.

        Government sucks.

        1. What a surprise! When the government decides to keep its nose out of something, that something turns out to be the lives of government officials!

        2. I agree. Would be worse if the opposite conclusion was reached.

          1. I’m not a prostitute, I’m an independent contractor raising funds for a lobbying firm!

            (which was already redundant)

    2. But sex can be used in lieu of monetary payment!

        1. Tax that ass.

          Sorry, had to be done.

        2. If you were to follow Reagan’s quote on taxation:

          If that a$$ moves, tax it.
          If it keeps moving, regulate it.
          If it stops moving, subsidize it.

          1. If that a$$ moves, tax it.
            If it keeps moving, regulate it.
            If it stops moving, sodomize it.

            FTFY

    3. My only issue with it is that they claim that sex has no monetary value, which is bullshit.

      1. The lobbyist still has to report paying for dinner at the Olive Garden.

    4. It’s saying that consensual sexual acts aren’t something you can price out

      Says who?

      1. Look, when I bang your mom, she or I can put a price on it if we want, but you, as a third party observer (did you get the last video I sent you?) and not a participant, can’t set a price on our “love”. Only the people involved can decide what it was/is worth to them.

        (I’d value it at about 25 cents, by the way. She’s…pretty stretched out.)

        1. did you get the last video I sent you?

          Yes.

    5. It’s saying that consensual sexual acts aren’t something you can price out

      Which, of course, is blatantly untrue.

      They call prostitution the world’s oldest profession for a reason. And that reason is that sex is one of the first services to be sold.

      1. Sorry, I phrased that badly. Consensual sex acts aren’t something a third party can put a price on, only the people involved can do that. Of course sex can and is sold for a price all the time, but again, that’s between the people involved in the transaction. So the state can’t “value” sex between lobbyists and politicians.

        Of course the state does this for other things all the time, and even could here if prostitution were legal (what’s going rate for a blowjob, etc), but obviously they’re not because the politicians want to be able to lobbied with sex.

        1. Consensual sex acts aren’t something a third party can put a price on, only the people involved can do that.

          Technically, of course, many prostitutes aren’t in charge of their own fee schedule. Their pimps are, so a third party is setting the price.

          Less technically, you could probably say the same thing about almost any service: that the prices is set by the people in the transaction, not an unrelated third party.

          Substitute, oh, “home renovation” for sex, and you can see how bogus this claim really is, as the logic applies to having a lobbyist give you a new six-figure kitchen in your house just as easily as it applies to having a lobbyist give you a blow job.

          1. There is a bit of a difference between home renovation and sex. People for the most part have sex without money changing hands (yes, we all pay for it one way or another, but that’s not the same as fee-for service). Very few people will come to renovate your home without getting paid for it. And sex is a very fundamental and natural part of human interpersonal relations in a way that home renovation is not. So you could avoid the argument about whether you can put a price on sex by just saying that it is too much of an invasion of privacy to determine whether a sexual relationship is giving someone something of monetary value or not.

        2. but again, that’s between the people involved in the transaction. So the state can’t “value” sex between lobbyists and politicians.

          Faulty logic there, Epi.

          The state enacts “price gouging” legislation on every other transaction and determines fair market value on eminent domain cases. Their basis is what people involved in the other transactions or similar goods and services paid.

          If this ruling renders eminent domain and price gouging legislation null and void, I’m all for it. But this is really the state setting the value of sex at $0.00. How bible-thumping of them.

        3. Consensual sex acts aren’t something a third party can put a price on, only the people involved can do that

          I would think that’s something we *all* agree on – only we extend it to *all* market transactions.

  10. Nice Alt-Text.

  11. I’ve made $64,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student. I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money. It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it. Heres what I’ve been doing,,,,,

    http://www.work-mill.com

  12. I’ve made $64,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student. I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money. It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it. Heres what I’ve been doing,,,,,

    http://www.work-mill.com

  13. The difficulty in this context is deciding which one is the whore and which one is the john.

  14. Under North Carolina law, lobbyists must report gifts and “things of value” worth more than $10 per day given to someone covered by the state ethics act or their family…

    “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,”

    Seems like it would be perfectly legal as long as the hooker is $10 or less.

    1. Nah, you just put the hooker on payroll, and make sure they perform enough acts to be cheaper than hiring per act freelancers.

      Let’s say you hire a hooker as an employee at minimum wage — plus periodic bonuses — you could then pay her her usual wage without it being a reportable gift.

    2. “Your honor, I didn’t report the blow job from the lobbyist for the Liquor Distributor’s Association because, frankly, I wouldn’t pay a whore $10 for a job that bad. If it pleases the court, I can show the teethmarks she left.”

  15. Lobbyists paying for prostitution for politicians? Must be reported. Lobbyists secretly engaging in prostitution with politicians? No big thing.

    So prostitution is now legal in NC as long as it is paid in kind rather than in cash?

    Titcoin

    1. That is real life though. Dinner and a movie = sex. No explicit rate set or terms. Samething with lobbyist. Maybe I get funding for X and decide I like your personality after all.

      1. I like to imagine that dating is (usually at least) a bit more than a simple economic transaction. I’m such a romantic, I know.

  16. Got that? Lobbyists paying for prostitution for politicians? Must be reported. Lobbyists secretly engaging in prostitution with politicians? No big thing.

    it sounds weird when its flat out stated that way but this position is completely consistent with our legal treatment of sex-for-compensation.

    Jump into bed with someone for money – jail time and record.
    Jump into bed with someone in exchange for a nice gift – No big thing.

  17. Everyone is discussing whether boning a lobbyist should be “registered” based on the idea that it may or may not have monetary value? Really??

    Perhaps we should ask the most obvious and important question: is getting a blowjob from a lobbyist who wants a favor in return unethical? I mean Jesus H. Christ, this is the North Carolina ETHICS Commission. Who the f–k cares if giving your favorite lobbyist a facial should be “registered?” It’s for damn sure unethical – has anyone on that commission ever heard of the term “conflict of interest?” Their incompetence is stupefying.

  18. Worth less than $10, huh. I guess a lobbyist compares to a 2 bit whore…

  19. The World of Politics According to Jesse “Big Daddy” Unruh:

    If you can’t drink their whisky, eat their food, screw their women, and still vote NO on their bill, you’re in the wrong business!

  20. BUT WHAT ABOUT GAME DEVELOPERS? CAN THEY FUCK JOURNALISTS?

  21. Madame Zara’s house of lobbyists:
    Take money from citizens to “lobby” for certain legislation, etc.
    Pay “lobbyists” to “lobby” government officials, and make some extra money selling booze, food and “accessories” to said officials.

    It’s win/win.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.