Bibbs indicted in lobbying fraud investigation

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Attorney and former Wilson politician Mark Bibbs is accused of lying to state officials who were investigating claims that he broke the law by working as an unregistered lobbyist.

A Wake County grand jury on Tuesday handed down a 10-count indictment against Bibbs charging him with felony obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice, perjury, lobbying without registration and conspiracy to lobby without registration.

Bibbs had registered as a lobbyist with the N.C. Department of the Secretary of State in 2015 and said he did not know his registration had lapsed and required renewal in the second year of the N.C. General Assembly’s 2015-16 session, according to media reports.

The true bill of indictment states that Bibbs worked as a paid lobbyist for two bail bonding industry clients, Cannon Surety, LLC and N.C. Bail Academy, LLC, while not being registered.

Bibbs lobbied against Senate Bill 508, which amended bail bond, collection agency and criminal mediation laws, by speaking at North Carolina Courts Commission and House Judiciary Committee III meetings and emailing lawmakers in opposition to the bill, according to the indictment.

The lobbying activities occurred in February and June 2016, the charging document states. Then-Gov. Pat McCrory signed SB 508 into law on July 22, 2016.

Bibbs faces four counts of lobbying without registration, while the remainder of the charges stem from the N.C. Department of the Secretary of State Lobbying Compliance Division’s investigation into the matter.

The indictment accuses Bibbs of obstructing justice “by submitting affidavits containing materially false statements” to the compliance division and “making false statements and providing false information” to compliance division investigators, who are sworn law enforcement officers.

Bibbs is also accused of perjuring himself during the probe and conspiring with two people named in the indictment “for the purpose of misleading an investigation.”

State officials began examining Bibbs’ conduct after Nick Ochsner, an investigative reporter for Charlotte television station WBTV, reported on his lobbying activities for Cannon Surety.

Bibbs’ involvement in politics dates to his college days. He was elected to the University of North Carolina Board of Governors as a 22-year-old law student, becoming the board’s youngest-ever member.

A native of Kings Mountain, Bibbs worked as an attorney for Fitch & Associates in Wilson before establishing his own law practice. He unsuccessfully sought election to the state House in 2012, running as the Democratic nominee and losing to Republican state Rep. Susan Martin in District 8, and in 2014, falling to Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield in the District 24 Democratic primary.

Bibbs now lives in Raleigh but still owns property in Wilson, according to tax records. The North Carolina State Bar lists his law license as active.