Updated rules for publicly financed candidates for governor, lieutenant governor advance at ELEC

TRENTON – The state’s Election Law Enforcement Commission took another step toward issuing new rules for publicly financed candidates for governor and lieutenant governor.

The commission met Tuesday for a public hearing in which no one testified. The hearing’s topic was on proposed rule changes and amendments to the commission’s regulations surrounding the gubernatorial public finance program.

Commissioners did not vote on the agenda item.

The bulk of the proposed new rules deal with the office of lieutenant governor, more specifically, adding the position to the commission’s regulations in accordance with statutory changes that became effective in 2009. The office of the lieutenant governor was created in 2005 after voters approved a constitutional amendment on the issue.

The changes also would codify debate-sponsor requirements and add to the list of permissible uses of matching funds by publicly financed gubernatorial candidates such things as internet advertisements and certain website communications.

The commission is likely to move ahead with the rule changes during its September meeting, officials said.

ELEC also pushed forward toward implementing adjusted campaign cost thresholds for 2013 gubernatorial candidates.

In June, PolitickerNJ.com reported the commission accepted adjusting the campaign thresholds. Contributors could give a maximum of $3,800 per election to gubernatorial candidates in 2013 under the new inflation-adjusted limits and thresholds established today by ELEC.

The limit in 2009 was $3,400.

The commission voted today to move forward with the proposed amendments. The next step will be to open them up for a 30-day public comment period and host a public hearing.

Also under the proposed changes, gubernatorial candidates who qualify for public funding could spend a maximum of $5.6 million in primaries, and $12.2 million in general elections. According to ELEC Executive Director Jeffrey Brindle, those campaigns could receive up to $3.5 million in public funds for primaries, and $8.2 million for general elections under the Gubernatorial Public Financing Program that began in 1977.

Following a public hearing, the commission must adopt today’s report by December to adopt the new regsulations, ELEC said.

The following is a chart furnished by ELEC that details the 2013 Gubernatorial Cost Index Adjustments from 2009 to 2013:

Contribution limit: $3,400 (2009) – $3,800 (2013)

Qualification Threshold: $340,000 – $380,000

Amount not matched: $109,000 – $122,000

Primary Public Fund Cap: $3,100,000 – $3,500,000

General Public Fund Cap: $7,300,000 – $8,200,000

General Expenditure Limit: $10,900,000 – $12,200,000.

ELEC is expected to meet again in September.

Updated rules for publicly financed candidates for governor, lieutenant governor advance at ELEC