Open Meetings Suit Filed



By Matthew Burns, senior producer/politics editor

Raleigh, N.C. — Commercial fishermen's ongoing beef with state regulators has taken a new turn: a lawsuit alleging repeated violations of North Carolina's open meetings law.

The North Carolina Fisheries Association filed suit Wednesday in Carteret County, seeking to void a February decision by the state Marine Fisheries Commission to change provisions of recreational and commercial fishing licenses.

The lawsuit alleges that commission members would frequently communicate with one another and coordinate actions via email instead of during public meetings. The State Auditor's Office made a similar finding two years ago, citing several email chains among commission members that their lawyer had to halt because members were discussing business outside of a public meeting.

Despite the concerns expressed by state auditors, the lawsuit contends, commission members continued to coordinate their decisions in private. The lawsuit cites an April 2017 incident, when the commission attorney again warned members about discussing business in emails, and Chairman Sammy Corbett then told members after adjourning a meeting that they should use discuss things over the phone instead in the future.

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