ELEC to push for ‘Pay to Play’ law reform

The state Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) plans to push to reform the state’s questionable and confusing ‘pay to play’ law to strengthen the measure that took effect in 2006.

The commission, which is responsible for tracking campaign finance in the state, called the law “confusing” and said with the inclusion of the “fair and open” provision, which allows municipalities to bypass the pay to play restrictions in awarding contracts so long as the request for bids is advertised on the township's Web site or in a local newspaper, the law has a huge loophole.

To reform the law, ELEC Chairman Jerry Fitzgerald English said in the commissions’ July newsletter, the legislature should adopt four changes.

First, the law would be changed so that one state law applies at both the state and local level.  The current law allows for municipalities to pass their own ordinances, but the authorizing legislation is sketchy.

Second, Fitzgerald said the commission would push for “fair and open” to be removed from the law.

Third, the commission recommends that any contractor with contracts worth more than $17,500 be subject to the disclosure requirement under the law.  Now, the law calls for contractors with deals over $50,000 to disclose contributions.

And last, the commission recommends the contribution limit be boosted over $300, calling it “a bit too low for a state like New Jersey.”

Heather Taylor, spokeswoman for good government group Citizens’ Campaign said ELEC is moving in the right direction in pushing for changes to the law.

“The fair and open provision has been a means to continue business as usual since the law was passed in 2006,” Taylor said.  “We are also in full agreement that there should be a uniform provision.  We’d like to see the state law expanded down to the local level.”


ELEC to push for ‘Pay to Play’ law reform