Two Democratic Assembly members hope to shed light on the independent expenditures that flow into the state during election season.
Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-15) and Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-22) have proposed legislation requiring independent expenditure committees to disclose both their expenditures and their contributions provided they spend more than $1,200 or receive donations of more than $2,500.
Independent expenditure committees – otherwise known as 527 groups, 501 (c) (4), 501 (c) (5), and 501 (c) (6) groups after the sections of the tax code under which they operate, would be required to set up a separate New Jersey fund and report contributions and expenditures quarterly as well as 29 and 11 days before an election cycle during which they spend or receive money and 20 days after the election.
In general the committees would fall under the same reporting rules as candidates and PACs that operate in the state.
Independent expenditure committees in general cannot act in coordination with a candidate for office and the bill would require that any advertising or literature produced by the committee to bear a disclaimer that it was not created in coordination with a candidate.
“This money is creeping into politics in New Jersey,” Gusciora said, “and I think it’s fair that it be disclosed. There should be transparency in all donations that ultimately serve to persuade voters on a candidate.”
Gusciora worked with the Election law Enforcement Commission on the bill. ELEC Director Jeff Brindle said it’s an initiative that is a long time coming.
Similar measures are in place in several states nationwide, with California among the most robust.
“It’s absolutely something we support,” Brindle said. “It’s something the commission and I have been calling for for three years,” he said.
Outside expenditures are expected to play an increasing role in state and national politics and the governor’s race will no doubt see the largest influx of independent expenditures in state history.
To date, there is no sponsor for the measure in the Senate.