The Civitas Institute on Friday followed up its complaint against several environmental groups, filed Thursday with the state Board of Elections, with a related complaint filed with the Secretary of State.
The new complaint alleges that the Natural Resources Defense Council should have registered with the state lobbying division for ads it bought targeting GOP lawmakers for their votes supporting fracking. Civitas contends anyone buying advertisements that seek to influence legislation or legislative action must register as a lobbyist. The NRDC contends it doesn’t have to register because that wasn’t the purpose of the ads.
The N.C. Environmental Partnership, a coalition of eight organizations including the NRDC, takes credit for the ads. Money to buy the ads came from the NRDC and the Southern Environmental Law Center.
Civitas claims the coalition is a ruse meant to hide the true source of funding, and violates state law requiring disclosures to the Board of Elections. A spokeswoman for the SELC says there was no attempt to hide the funding.
Also on Friday, the elections board sent letters to the NRDC and the SELC notifying them of the complaint, and giving them until Sept. 29 if they want to respond.