The Impact of Pay-to-Play Reform on NJ Legislative Elections

09.22.2011

By: Rebecca Moll Freed

ELEC issued White Paper No. 22 today entitled “Trends in Legislative Campaign Financing: Fundraising in the Era of Pay-to-Play Reform, Self-Funders and Recession”. The White Paper was released just as the 2011 legislative election cycle kicks into high gear and focuses on fundraising in New Jersey from 1999-2009.  According to the White Paper, fundraising for the 2005, 2007 and 2009 legislative elections was $1 million less than the previous three election cycles (1999, 2001 and 2003). The economy, wealthy candidates and pay-to-play restrictions may be to blame. Could the fact that the first three election cycles included only one gubernatorial election whereas the second three cycles included two gubernatorial elections also have had an impact on giving? ELEC concluded that although state parties were hit hardest by statewide pay-to-play restrictions, “all state candidates suffered to some extent because many contractors simply stopped writing checks due to general fear over losing contracts.”   Will the impact be the same for the 2011 legislative elections?  In spite of the economy, will vendors begin to write checks greater than $300 to legislative candidates? Will the fact that 2011 is not a gubernatorial election year have an impact on contributions to legislative candidates? Although vendors may be “afraid” of losing contracts, with a well executed compliance plan in place, vendors may be surprised to learn that they need not put their political giving on hold – particularly when it comes to legislative candidates.

Tag: New Jersey