New Jersey’s Pay to Play System: A Call for Uniformity

April 23, 2010

Yesterday, the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (“ELEC”) issued its 2009 Annual report, which calls for uniformity in New Jersey’s pay to play restrictions. The Annual Report suggests that the time has come for ELEC and the Legislature to work together to overhaul New Jersey’s pay to play system.  The goal is to “simplify and standardize” the various state, county and local laws by creating a cohesive set of restrictions statewide. ELEC’s recommended changes, which require legislative action, include:
  • Extending current statewide pay to play restrictions to county and municipal vendors;
  • Removing the “fair and open process” exception for local pay to play laws;
  • Potentially raising the reduced pay to play contribution limit from $300 to $1,000 (if the fair and open process exception is abolished); and
  • Lowering the filing threshold for the ELEC Business Entity Annual Disclosure Statement from $50,000 to $17,500.
ELEC’s desire to overhaul New Jersey’s pay to play laws may stem from a hearing held earlier this year before the N.J. Assembly Judiciary Committee.  The hearing focused on the impact of Citizens United on New Jersey’s campaign finance and pay to play laws.  All those testifying agreed that complying with New Jersey’s pay to play laws has become increasingly difficult because of the variations among all of the pay to play restrictions. Should legislation to promote uniformity move forward, how will it treat labor unions?  Governor Christie’s Executive Order 7 is currently being challenged in court. ELEC’s recommendations for overhauling New Jersey’s pay to play system come in the wake of amendments to New Jersey’s pay to play regulations, which took effect earlier this week.  In short, ELEC’s recent amendments:
  • Require business entities filing annual disclosure statements to maintain their records for four (4) years;
  • Make it clear that a currency contribution in any amount will trigger pay to play prohibition and disclosure provisions; and
  • Delete references to not-for-profits from the annual disclosure filing requirements.
Associate Bonnie B. Fire contributed to this post.

Tag: New Jersey