TRENTON — Municipal and county contributions for primary campaigns can now be searched and sorted online by contributor, and the same information will be available for general election candidates early next year, the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) announced today.
Jeffrey Brindle, the ELEC executive director, made the announcement with some fanfare at the agency’s headquarters in Trenton this morning. Although the information has been available for statewide and legislative campaigns since 1999, those looking to search for a specific contributor to local candidates used to have to pour through each candidate’s report.
“More than $5.5 million was contributed during this year’s primary to local candidates through the state. These donations can now be sorted by contributor and analyzed electronically,” said Brindle. “If someone receives a public contract, any citizen can simply key in his or her name.”
Brindle said the commission began the initiative partly in response to pay-to-play, and partly to increase ELEC’s profile with the general public. People he encounters who aren’t involved in politics or government, Brindle said, often don’t understand what ELEC does.
“They think we take care of the voting machines, and so on and so forth,” he said. “We provide a lot of important services to the public, but if the public doesn’t know we exist, the public can’t take advantage of those services.”
One reporter asked if ELEC’s publicizing of the intiative was a departure for the low-key agency.
“You said it – I didn’t,” said Brindle. “I don’t think we’ve been behind the curve. I just think we’re moving ahead of the curve now.”