Lobbyist faces criminal investigation after WBTV uncovered unregistered lobbying

Lobbyist faces criminal investigation after WBTV uncovered unregistered lobbying

RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) - A well-connected Raleigh lobbyist has been the target of a confidential criminal investigation conducted by the North Carolina Secretary of State's Office for more than a year, recently-unsealed court records show.

Special agents with the Secretary of State's Office have been investigating attorney and lobbyist Mark Bibbs since last summer. The investigation was prompted in part by a WBTV investigation that questioned why Bibbs was acting as a lobbyist on behalf of a surety company without being registered to lobby on the company's behalf.

WBTV has obtained copies of five search warrants and related court filings outlining the criminal investigation into Bibbs and his lobbying client Cannon Surety and related entities.

The first search warrant was executed in early September 2016 and the most recent search warrant was executed in early April of this year.

Lawyers for the Secretary of State's Office requested the documents be sealed by a judge as recently as June of this year.

Each of the five warrants contains varying facts and details related to the criminal investigation but each of the warrants assert there is probably cause to believe Bibbs lobbied on behalf of Cannon Surety during the North Carolina General Assembly's short session in 2016 without the proper lobbying disclosure forms being filed.

Warrants filed this spring—to search Bibbs' vehicle and office—also say the agents were investigating possible felony obstruction of justice charges related to Bibbs' attempts to create fake billing records to make it appear as though he charged Cannon Surety for work unrelated to lobbying.

Bibbs ultimately registered as a lobbyist for Cannon Surety in June 2016, months after he had sent emails on the company's behalf to lawmakers seeking to stop a bill from passing.

In an email, Bibbs referred questions related to this investigation to his attorney, who was not immediately available for comment.

An email sent to a spokesman for Cannon Surety seeking comment went unanswered as of early Wednesday evening.

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