Aug 10, 2023
Elections Transparency Act has allowed party committees to raise extra $671k so far
Campaign finance law hiked maximum committee donation from $25k to $75k By Joey Fox, August 03 2023 11:57 am New Jersey’s campaign finance laws were upended earlier this year when Gov. Phil Murphy
Campaign finance law hiked maximum committee donation from $25k to $75k
By Joey Fox, August 03 2023 11:57 am
New Jersey’s campaign finance laws were upended earlier this year when Gov. Phil Murphy signed the Elections Transparency Act, which dramatically increased campaign fundraising limits for state party committees. And those committees are already reaping the benefits, according to a report released today by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).
The state’s “Big Six” committees – consisting of each party’s main state committee, State Senate committee, and Assembly committee – collectively raised $3.6 million in the first six months of 2023, much more than the committees usually raise in midterm years when only legislative offices are up for election. The committees have a total of $4.1 million on-hand, the highest second-quarter total in at least a decade.
None of that would have been possible without the Elections Transparency Act, which raised the limit that an individual could give to a party committee from $25,000 to $75,000. Donors can also give an additional $37,500 to committees’ “housekeeping accounts,” where money is earmarked for administrative costs, so the true maximum is really $112,500.
In total, ELEC calculated that donors were able to give an additional $671,200 thanks to the new limits.
The biggest single donation came from Republican state chairman Bob Hugin, who gave his own party a maxed-out $112,500 donation. The New Jersey State Laborers and Greater NJ Carpenters were the dominant donors for the other side of the aisle, giving $225,000 and $175,000, respectively, spread out across the three Democratic committees.
Most of the other excess donations also went towards Democratic committees, meaning that Democrats have benefited from the new law far more than Republicans. Perhaps not coincidentally, most Republican legislators opposed the Elections Transparency Act when it came up for a vote earlier this year.
During that original debate over the bill in the legislature, proponents of raising campaign finance limits argued that doing so would lessen the influence outside dark money groups have on elections. Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s executive director, repeated that argument today in a press release accompanying the new campaign finance data.
“Unlike many independent spending committees, party committees must fully and publicly detail their campaign finances,” Brindle said. “If the new law redirects some funds away from independent spending committees to party coffers, it will bring greater balance to the electoral process in New Jersey.”
Overall, Democrats have quite a bit more money in their coffers than Republicans, which is par for the course in New Jersey. The three Democratic committees raised $2,460,290 in the first six months of 2023 and have $2,916,846 on-hand, while Republicans raised $1,149,909 and have $1,143,978 on-hand.
And since the Elections Transparency Act has only been in effect for three months, its full impact probably hasn’t been felt yet. With November’s legislative elections looming and campaign season heating up, the torrents of money made possible by the new law may only just beginning.