Raleigh, N.C. — After a false start this summer, the North Carolina State Ethics Commission will begin putting statements of economic interest filled out by public officials online starting with forms filed in 2015.
Statements of Economic Interest disclose property, stock and government licenses held by lawmakers, executive branch officials, judges and others in public service. The forms allow members of the public, as well as ethics commission officials, to spot potential conflicts of interest between somebody's public service and private interests.
Perry Newson, the commission's director, said the forms also prompt public officials to think about potential problems before they are encountered. Thousands of state officials file the forms.
The forms have always been public record, but members of the public who have wanted to review them have had to request copies from the commission.
For a short period of time this summer, the forms were placed online, allowing public direct access. However, they came down weeks later after several judicial branch officials complained that criminals might be able to find their personal information, such as home address or personal cellphone number.
A newly designed form, approved Friday afternoon, will collect that personal information on a separate page. That separate page is public record, but it will not be posted online.
Newson said that forms will begin going online as soon as those who are required to file begin to do so in 2015.
Some information may be limited at first. A covered person who has not had a change in his or her property or stock holdings or other information can file a "no change" form. That no change form does not include detailed information about potential conflicts. So, detailed information about people who file a no change form in 2015 will not be posted by the commission.