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Candidate for Secretary of State

Elaine F. Marshall 

Candidate for Secretary of State

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Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Elaine F. Marshall

Party: Democrat

Date of Birth: November, 1945

Campaign Web Site: www.elainemarshall.com

Occupation & Employer: Secretary of State, State of North Carolina

Years lived in North Carolina: 40 (since 1968)


1. What do you see as the most important issues facing the Secretary of State and working people in North Carolina? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?

a. Accurate and accessible public records -- Saving tax dollars by cutting the time and cost of doing business and streamlining public records access with secure new technologies

b. Stronger lobbying laws and more transparent governmental decision making -- Standing up to special interests by working for strong reform of lobbying laws

c. Financial education and protection -- Protecting small businesses and consumers by fighting against counterfeit goods and investment fraud

2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the issues you've identified? Please be as specific as possible in relating past accomplishments to current goals.

I am qualified by legal training, years of private practice in business law, North Carolina Senate experience and now 11 years as the Secretary of State. I have earned national awards for technology, innovative law enforcement and business leadership and in addition, I have earned state awards for leadership and government reform.

3. How do you define yourself politically, and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?

I am progressive on many social issues and less so on financial issues.

The initiative to create a Blue Ribbon Study Commission on Lobbying Laws was started in 2003 by me BEFORE any illegal lobbying scandal was discovered. It was difficult to get tougher laws passed, but we did it in 2005.

Taking the initiative to revise the lobbying laws with greater sunshine and more frequent and detailed expense reporting prior to any scandal was progressive and an effort for course correction for our state in regard to public policy decision-making processes.

4. The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle and North Carolina. Please point to a specific position in your platform that would, if achieved, help further that goal.

In order to ensure that all citizens of North Carolina benefit from the Department of Secretary of State, I look for new ways every day to help create jobs and support business, protect consumers from financial scam artists and from shoddy, harmful counterfeit goods. By opening the services of the Department to all citizens in easily accessible ways, we have utilized a user-friendly format that all can be proud of and gain from regardless of the distance that a citizen lives from Raleigh.

5. Identify and explain one principled stand you would be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.

Rest assured that I will enforce the laws within the jurisdiction of the Secretary of State without fear or favor of anyone.

6. If these issues haven't been addressed above, would you please comment on:

• Regulating the state's cable franchise agreements: Nearly two years after the Video Service Competition Act was enacted, neither AT&T nor Verizon has submitted a single application to provide video service in North Carolina. Only two new providers have entered the market; and only one service area has any competition. Meanwhile, many PEG channels have seen their funding evaporate under the new law. What can the Secretary of State's office do to ensure that companies comply with the spirit and the letter of the VSCA? What is the solution to funding the public access channels?

By law, the enforcement and oversight duties under the new Video Service Competition Act were assigned to the Attorney General's office, the Revenue Laws Study Committee of the Legislature and, in regard to the tax revenues to the municipalities, the North Carolina Department of Revenue.

2007 efforts by the Secretary of State to require clearer franchise filing information through administrative rules were partly superseded by the Legislature in 2008.

Under the VSCA, the Secretary of State is identified as the Cable Franchise Authority. However, under this law, the only actual "authority" granted is to receive and file documents. The Department of Secretary of State was not engaged in the development of the bill as it was being considered because we were not mentioned in the bill until very near the end of its legislative journey. We were placed in the bill notwithstanding our lack of expertise in the subject matter and we did NOT request our inclusion.

• Investigating securities markets and related financial institutions: Considering the problems with the financial sector, what more should the Secretary of State's office be doing to assure that consumers are protected from unscrupulous business practices?

This is a huge issue. In a brief nutshell the following needs to be done;

♦ State regulators need to continue to be "the local cop on the beat." To think that, as some in Washington have proposed, the federal authorities would have exclusive control would mean no assistance for retail investors, large or small

♦ Investment products that have a serious redemption penalty prior to 10 or so years into the investment should be illegal to sell to citizens over 60 or 65 years of age or the "early withdrawal" penalty should be eliminated

♦ Certain "insurance" investment products should be declared securities as a matter of law

♦ Funding for financial literacy needs to be enhanced

♦ Greater resources are needed to employ and retain Department law enforcement staff such as forensic auditors, technology specialists, security analysts and criminal investigators with extensive expertise in white collar crime

• Lobbyists: What further reforms are necessary to keep the electoral and legislative processes as free from overreaching special interests?

All issued ethics opinions by the North Carolina Ethics Commission need to be immediately made public.

Let me say at the outset that the ethics and lobbying law has yet to go through an entire biennial cycle. Enforcement procedures and policies do need to settle in more. Making changes annually to the statute is unfair to folks. It creates unintended consequences.

To identify the one thing that would be most helpful and provide greater transparency, it would be to change the statutory wording on reportable expenditures from expenditures that "benefit" certain individuals to include expenditures spent which then would include money expended to oppose as well as to benefit.

7. As member of the Council of State, you would have input on the issue of the death penalty, including the execution protocol, which was taken up by the Council last year. Do you feel qualified to vote on such issues? If so, how would you vote on the execution protocol and other death penalty matters that may come before the Council? And is the Council of State an appropriate body to deliberate these issues?

As an individual person, I feel as qualified as any non-medically trained individual to vote on such an issue.

On the protocol vote taken early 2007, I voted against the protocol proposed. The constitutional responsibility assigned individually to each Council of State member is to administer a particular agency.

As a body we meet only once a month with no specifically assigned staff or the customary institutional powers of a deliberating body – such as committees, subpoena power, etc. The constitution also vests public policy decisions in the Legislature, therefore, this should be a legislative issue, not a Council of State issue.

  • Candidate for Secretary of State

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