Biesecker: It raises a lot of questions about the revolving doors between the lobbying firms in Raleigh and the elected officeholders. Traditionally in a lot of places people would resign as a state legislator and then there’s a cooling-off period required by state law, and the next thing you know a lobbying firm is sending out a release announcing that they’re a new partner.

With Gov. McCrory, he was working at a lobbying firm prior to taking office, up until within days of taking office. It’s a large law firm as well, Moore & Van Allen in Charlotte, and they have a robust lobbying arm that they’d beefed up while McCrory was working there. He never registered as a lobbyist, but he’s also not a lawyer and he’s been consistently vague about exactly what he did do at the firm, so now you have a lobbying firm with a pretty strong connection to a former employee who’s the governor of North Carolina. So the revolving door is turning the other direction, and I think that’s new.

Certainly the sweepstakes issue and the involvement of Moore & Van Allen in representing Chase Burns is opening up sort of broader questions about the influence that lobbying firms are playing and the access that they have to the state’s top elected leaders.

What’s next?

Weiss: We’re going to be staying on top of it and we’ll be reporting all the developments and digging deeper. There are other stories that Michael and I would like to work on, and I’m sure we will—and of course there are the breaking stories.

There’s a lot of smoke there. Should the Board of Elections look into it? You have to ask them. I think there could be fallout if they don’t. Then you have to hold them accountable: Why didn’t you? It’s all speculative at this point, because we just have no idea what they’re going to do.

* Correction: The original version of this sentence incorrectly referred to a 2010 state Supreme Court ban. The 2010 ban was the result of a law; the two-year court fight that ensued ended in a 2012 court decision upholding the law. CJR regrets the error.

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Corey Hutchins is CJR's correspondent for Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia. A former alt-weekly staffer, he has twice been named journalist of the year in the weekly division by the S.C. Press Association. Hutchins recently worked on the State Integrity Investigation at the Center for Public Integrity, and he has contributed to Slate, The Nation, and Medium, among others. Follow him on Twitter @coreyhutchins or email him at coreyhutchins@gmail.com.