Morris County court ruling affirms ELEC’s jurisdiction, agency says

TRENTON – The state Election Law Enforcement Commission said today’s appellate court ruling in a Morris County case confirms its

TRENTON – The state Election Law Enforcement Commission said today’s appellate court ruling in a Morris County case confirms its authority to enforce campaign finance laws.

“We are delighted with the decision,’’ said Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s executive director. “We felt all along that a recent Morris County election should not have been overturned based on alleged violations of campaign finance regulations,’’ said Brindle.

“It is ELEC’s job to determine when such violations exist. Only in extremely rare instances does the agency have the ability to overturn an election. The appellate judges today clearly recognized these facts,” he said.

The appeals court this morning declared a vacancy in a Morris County freeholder race, and said the person who won in November should not have been on the ballot, but instead said that the person disqualified by a trial court decision earlier should have been on the ballot.

Brindle emphasized that while the Commission intervened in the case to uphold its statutory prerogatives, it did not take sides in the case.

Brindle said that when it intervened in the case, ELEC pointed out that the Legislature in 1993 gave the agency the power to make a candidate forfeit office only if it found that the candidate received at least $50,000 in illegal contributions and the violation had a significant impact on the outcome of the election. In its nearly 40-year history, the Commission has never invoked that section of the law, Brindle said.

Brindle said if a previous lower court ruling had not been overturned, “it would have subjected candidates and committees to inconsistent application of the Campaign Reporting Act in enforcement actions.’’

Morris County freeholder removed; court vacancy declared

  Morris County court ruling affirms ELEC’s jurisdiction, agency says