Clean Elections press conference fallout

The press conference yesterday headlined by Assembly members Allison Littell McHose (R-Franklin) and Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains) that attacked the Clean Elections program produced several reverberations today.

McHose (R-Franklin) took a comment by a staffer of the Assembly Democrats yesterday in response to the press conference as a promise that Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts (D-Camden) would work to rid the state of pay-to-play contributions.

A report in the Asbury Park Press said that Assembly Democratic spokesman Derek Roseman told the paper that Roberts “plans to reform pay-to-play in the fall.”

McHose took that sentence to mean a ban on the practice, and went on to call for more stringent measures.

“This is a great step forward,” said McHose. “We shouldn’t stop here. In tandem with a ban on pay-to-play, the Speaker should join with those reformers who want to end the one-stop-shopping inherent in legislative leadership accounts,” said McHose in a statement.”

Roberts’s leadership account distributes millions of dollars to Democratic legislative candidates across the state.

"Speaker Roberts would welcome Assemblywoman McHose's input and assistance to make pay-to-play reform a bipartisan reality,” responded Roseman.

Meanwhile, proponents of the Clean Elections Program today shot back at Webber and McHose, along with Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) President Sean Parnell and Center for Policy Research of New Jersey Executive Director Greg Edwards.

The program’s supporters questioned the Office of Legislative Services (OLS) opinion that the program would likely be considered unconstitutional under the Supreme Court’s recent Davis v. Federal Election Commission decision.

Hank Kalet, Managing Editor of the South Brunswick Post and The Cranbury Press, interviewed Laura McCleery, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. McCleery called the OLS opinion “sadly misleading” because it doesn’t take into account the difference between the millionaire’s amendment, which the Supreme Court struck down, and the Clean Elections program, which candidates have the option of opting in or out of.

”Opting in to the program involves more constraints,” she told Kalet. “There is no unfair constraint on someone who opts out. The OLS analysis didn’t understand that fundamental point.”

Ingrid Reed, Director of the Eagleton Institute’s New Jersey Project, made a similar argument to PolitickerNJ earlier this week. Clean Elections press conference fallout