November 9, 2011
Independent Spending in New Jersey's Elections
Yesterday, New Jersey voters went to the polls to elect candidates for local and legislative office. Despite the fact that all 120 seats in the New Jersey Legislature were up for grabs, in a press release issued last week, ELEC reports that fundraising and spending by legislative candidates is at an all time low since 2001. Although the economy and pay-to-play restrictions may be partially to blame, ELEC has indicated that “the recent growth of independent non-profit political groups organized under IRS rules” may be one of the factors leading to this decline. Prior to yesterday’s election, these groups – commonly referred to as Super PACs or Independent Expenditure Only PACs – were required to report their independent spending in excess of $1,200 to ELEC on pre-election and 48-hour notice reports. In the wake of Citizens United v. FEC, will the level of independent spending in New Jersey foreshadow the level of independent spending in the 2012 federal election cycle or in the 2013 New York City elections where new independent expenditure reporting requirements will likely be in effect?