Under the Dome

Lobbyist charged with felonies after investigation of bail bonds advocacy

In this 1995 file photo, Mark Bibbs, left, talks to Joe Stallings at a UNC Board of Governors meeting.
In this 1995 file photo, Mark Bibbs, left, talks to Joe Stallings at a UNC Board of Governors meeting. News & Observer

Raleigh attorney and lobbyist Mark Bibbs has been indicted on felony charges that he lobbied legislators on behalf of a bail bonds company without properly registering and then lied under oath about his actions to the North Carolina secretary of state’s lobbying compliance investigators.

A Wake County grand jury on Tuesday charged Bibbs with four counts of lobbying without a registration, two counts of obstruction of justice, two counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice, one count of perjury and one count of conspiracy to lobby with a registration. Charlotte TV station WBTV posted the indictment documents on Wednesday.

Investigators spent months looking into Bibbs' work in 2016 on behalf of NC Bail Academy, Rockford-Cohen Group, All American Bail Bonds and Cannon Surety. A complaint about Bibbs' activities was filed by Robert Brawley, a former state legislator and Republican candidate for governor who was a partner in the Cannon Surety business.

Brawley said Bibbs wasn't authorized to lobby for the business, but another person representing the business said he'd hired Bibbs. Bibbs has said he was unaware his 2015 lobbyist registration didn't apply to the second year of the 2015-2016 legislative session; he and his attorney did not make a statement in response to the indictments on Wednesday.

The search warrants in the case said Bibbs had lobbied legislators in 2016 to oppose Senate Bill 508, which made changes to bail bonds regulations and expanded the insurance commissioner's power to discipline bail bondsmen. The bill passed the House and Senate and was signed into law by then-Gov. Pat McCrory in July 2016.

Several months after the secretary of state’s investigation began, the NC Department of Insurance seized Cannon Surety's assets following a Sept. 28 raid on its Greensboro offices under a court order alleging shoddy bookkeeping practices and inadequate funds to cover potential bond forfeiture payments. Bibbs has been representing Cannon in that case and wrote in court filings that agency investigators didn't follow a law requiring them to give the company an opportunity to address problems before the raid.

The court filing says the enforcement action is "an egregious case of incestuous political corruption" because competitors of Cannon and its owner, Dallas McClain, donated to Causey's election campaign last year and later met with him.

Colin Campbell: 919-829-4698, @RaleighReporter

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