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Pay-to-Play Laws Stifling Campaign Contributions in New Jersey

A new report issued by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) is being cited as evidence that New Jersey’s pay-to-play laws, which are undoubtedly amongst the most robust in the nation, are reducing the amount of money entering New Jersey politics.

Specifically, ELEC’s analysis of contributions to candidates participating in the upcoming May 11 municipal elections in New Jersey indicate that total contributions are down 19% from fundraising totals at the same point four years ago. While current economic conditions would undoubtedly seem to have had some impact on these figures, a close examination of all campaign contributions in New Jersey indicates that pay-to-play laws are playing a significant factor in the reduced fundraising totals.

For example, ELEC is reporting that gross receipts for New Jersey state political parties, and House and Senate Leadership PACs, are down 36% from 2006 levels. Similarly, ELEC states that county party committees have reported 28% reductions in gross receipts over the same period.

Though municipal pay-to-play limits in New Jersey are generally very stringent by national standards, municipal candidates generally have more flexibility to accept contributions from municipal contractors than New Jersey state candidates do from state contractors. As the ELEC’s Executive Director states, this flexibility may be a significant factor as to why the reductions in municipal contributions are less dramatic than those that are being seen statewide.

In any case, pay-to-play laws are clearly having an impact on the political playing field in New Jersey. Click here for more insight on this trend.

We at the pay-to-play law blog will continue to monitor such developments nationwide.

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Pay-to-Play Laws Stifling Campaign Contributions in New Jersey