ELEC: Big Six Party Committees Reeling Under Weight of Independent Group Influence

The state Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) found in its financial analysis of the six main state party organizations that significant growth in independent group activity and the impact of the complex pay-to-play law in 2006 have contributed to the anemic sputtering of the so-called big six.

According to third quarter reports, the six committees, including the two state parties and four legislative leadership committees, raised $2.2 million and spent $2 million thus far in 2016; compared to $4.5 raised and $3.5 million spent in 2008, a similar year when there were no statewide elections.

“In just an eight-year period, fundraising has decreased by 51 percent and spending by 43 percent” said Jeff Brindle, Executive Director of the Commission.

“For a number of years now we have been calling for legislation to strengthen the political party system in New Jersey,” added Brindle.  “These statistics demonstrate the weakened state of parties in New Jersey and the glaring need to do something about it.  Parties are accountable, disclose their activities, serve as the people’s link to the government, and represent a broad coalition of people.”

So far in 2016, independent groups have spent $20 million for and against the casino ballot question.

“Between now and election day it could reach $40 million,” Brindle said.

In the 2013 gubernatorial and legislative elections, over $41 million was spent by independent groups compared to $14 million by the political parties.

“What’s more, public contractor contributions are increasingly going to special interest PACs, and independent groups, thus legally circumventing the pay-to-play law,” said Brindle.

He said that this trend is to the detriment, not only of political parties, but to the public.

According to the analysis, the Republican committees have raised $1.1 million and spent $930,487 and have cash-on-hand amounting to $814,746.  The Democratic committees have approximately $1.1 million in funds raised and have spent about $1.1 million with $373,960 cash-on-hand.

During the first nine months of 2016, the New Jersey Republican State Committee has led the way in terms of fundraising and spending, $616,675 raised and $704,621 spent.

Among the legislative leadership committees, the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee raised and spent the most money, $409,263 raised and $424,000 spent.

In the third quarter alone, the big six committees reported raising $533,737, the Republicans raising $405,941 and the Democrats $127,796.

Table 1 Campaign Finance Activity by “Big Six” January 1 through September 30, 2016

BOTH PARTIES

RAISED SPENT CASH-ON-HAND NET WORTH STATEWIDE ELECTION
2007 $9,322,604 $6,713,165 $7,368,421 $7,095,891 Senate and Assembly
2008 $4,457,887 $3,508,376 $1,519,083 $1,134,427
2009 $6,309,496 $5,098,191 $3,073,241 $2,746,784 Governor and Assembly
2010 $3,160,458 $2,859,927 $1,664,237 $1,457,787
2011 $6,913,921 $5,025,694 $3,428,259 $3,123,885 Senate and Assembly
2012 $4,083,910 $3,971,806 $1,331,432 $1,192,473
2-13 $7,203,008 $5,917,331 $2,970,203 $2,884,025 Governor and Both Houses
2014 $2,444,799 $1,887,661 $1,388,946 $   765,268
2015 $3,896,539 $3,579,018 $1,984,629 $1,346,849 Assembly only
2016 $2,195,300 $1,985,370 $1,188,706 $1,039,918

NJ ELEC Page 3 of 3 BIG SIX COMMITTEES-THIRD QUARTER 10/19/2016
Table 2 Fundraising by “Big Six” Committees January 1 through September 30, 2016
ACTIVITY FIRST THREE QUARTERS 2016 REPUBLICANS RAISED SPENT CASH-ON-HAND NETWORTH
New Jersey Republican State Committee $   616,675 $   704,621 $    94,896 $     79,708
Senate Republican Majority $   200,300 $   108,735 $  458,347 $   449,702
Assembly Republican Victory $   287,284 $   117,131 $  261,503 $   261,503
SUB TOTAL- REPUBLICANS $1,104,259 $   930,487 $  814,746 $   790,913

DEMOCRATS     New Jersey Democratic State Committee $   399,640 $   429,795 $    23,935 $    (50,581) Senate Democratic Majority $   282,138 $   201,088 $  321,088 $   301,088 Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee $   409,263 $   424,000 $    28,937 $      (1,502) SUB-TOTAL- DEMOCRATS $1,091,041 $1,054,883 $  373,960 $   249,005      TOTAL- BOTH PARTIES $2,195,300 $1,985,370 $1,188,706 $1,039,918

THIRD QUARTER 2016 REPUBLICANS RAISED SPENT New Jersey Republican State Committee $   162,640 $   129,029 Senate Republican Majority $   101,500 $     28,401 Assembly Republican Victory $   141,801 $     44,354 SUB TOTAL- REPUBLICANS $   405,941 $   201,784    DEMOCRATS  New Jersey Democratic State Committee $    54,251 $     39,035 Senate Democratic Majority $    26,496 $     86,523 Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee $    47,049 $   144,772 SUB-TOTAL- DEMOCRATS $   127,796 $   270,330    TOTAL- BOTH PARTIES $   533,737 $   472,115