The New Jersey Supreme Court has tentatively scheduled oral arguments in the Appeal by Earle Asphalt Co., which is challenging New Jersey’s pay to play laws on November. The matter involves a contribution made to the Monmouth County Republican Committee by Walter Earle III, the owner of Earle Asphalt, which later barred his firm from winning state contracts. Upon finding out that his contributuion (made at the request of former Co-Senate President John Bennett) would violate pay to play laws, Earle asked for his money back. Still, the state invalidated the award of a state Department of Transportation contract — on which Earle Asphalt was the lowest bidder. New Jersey prohibits the award of public contracts of more than $17,500 to any business that has contributed more than $300 to certain candidates and party organizatons.
Earle claims that the law limiting his campaign contributions violates his right to free speech. The queston the court is considering: “Did the political contribution of this Company’s president disqualify the Company from bidding on a State construction project under N.J.S.A. 19:44A-20.14; or, did the president’s request for a refund of the contribution entitle the Company to exemption under the safe-harbor provision of N.J.S.A. 19:44A-20.20?