March 8, 2016 •

New Jersey ELEC Expands Pay-to-Play Reporting Requirements for Business Entities Filing Form BE

New Jersey law requires every business receiving $50,000 in government contracts in a calendar year to file a Business Entity Annual Statement (Form BE) with the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) by March 30 of the following year. ELEC recently […]

New Jersey state sealNew Jersey law requires every business receiving $50,000 in government contracts in a calendar year to file a Business Entity Annual Statement (Form BE) with the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) by March 30 of the following year. ELEC recently amended Form BE to require filers to certify the statements on the form as accurate, to acknowledge penalties for willfully filing a false statement, and to identify whether each contract was awarded pursuant to a fair and open process.

Businesses completing Form BE for 2015 can expect to spend more time filing, as determining if a contract was awarded pursuant to a fair and open process may not be as simple as it sounds. The term may be defined differently at the state, county, and municipal levels, and some long-term contracts to be listed on the form may have been awarded years ago.

The fair and open certification is just another addition to New Jersey’s notoriously complex pay-to-play rules. Because certain laws apply only to contracts not awarded through a fair and open process, identifying a contract awarded through any other process will likely highlight the contract for regulatory agencies.

Although the changes will certainly make filing more complicated, ELEC has yet to issue guidance on the new requirements.

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October 23, 2015 •

New Jersey ELEC Proposes Changes to Lobbying Registration and Reporting Obligations

The New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission has approved the publication of a proposal amending lobbyist registration and reporting obligations. The proposal would require governmental affairs agents and represented entities to file all lobbying forms and reports electronically. A registration […]

New Jersey state sealThe New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission has approved the publication of a proposal amending lobbyist registration and reporting obligations. The proposal would require governmental affairs agents and represented entities to file all lobbying forms and reports electronically. A registration number and PIN supplied by the Commission would act as an electronic signature and acknowledgement for forms and reports submitted electronically.

Furthermore, when a group of individuals, each registered as a governmental affairs agent, together represents more than one entity, the group will be able to file a notice of representation for a represented entity on behalf of the group. Notice of termination filed by such a group would need to indicate whether termination applies the entire group or to a specific governmental affairs agent.

Additionally, the proposal would require any changes to the notice of representation to be made by electronically filing an amendment. Lastly, the proposal would also require an individual registering as a governmental affairs agent for the first time to personally appear in Commission offices to submit the annual fee and required photographs.

The proposed amendments were published in the New Jersey Register on October 19, 2015, and will be the subject of a public hearing on December 15. If approved following the public hearing, the amendments are expected to go into effect in early February.

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October 15, 2014 •

ELEC Director Urges New Jersey Legislature to Overhaul Pay-to-Play

Executive Director Jeff Brindle of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission issued a statement urging the state Legislature to amend existing pay-to-play law. He claims constitutional challenges to federal laws may have ramifications on New Jersey’s law, and a […]

New Jersey State HouseExecutive Director Jeff Brindle of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission issued a statement urging the state Legislature to amend existing pay-to-play law. He claims constitutional challenges to federal laws may have ramifications on New Jersey’s law, and a complete overhaul is necessary.

Brindle argues state pay-to-play law is too complex and has unintended consequences. Contractors either stop making contributions altogether, seek ways to legally circumvent the law, or simply break the law. Moreover, donations to transparent entities such as candidates and parties have declined while the activity of PACs and anonymous independent groups has increased significantly.

Because pay-to-play law is worthwhile, Brindle suggests establishing one state law, ending the fair and open loophole, enhancing disclosure, raising the contribution limit, exempting political parties, and including restrictions on contractor contributions to PACs.

The statement represented the personal opinions of Jeff Brindle and not necessarily those of the Commission.

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September 26, 2014 •

New Jersey Assemblyman Seeks to Abolish ELEC

New Jersey Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll recently introduced Assembly Bill 3650 to abolish the Election Law Enforcement Commission, repeal New Jersey’s restrictions on campaign finance and lobbying, and end public financing of gubernatorial campaigns. Carroll claims contribution limits do not […]

New Jersey State HouseNew Jersey Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll recently introduced Assembly Bill 3650 to abolish the Election Law Enforcement Commission, repeal New Jersey’s restrictions on campaign finance and lobbying, and end public financing of gubernatorial campaigns.

Carroll claims contribution limits do not actually limit contributions but simply encourage candidates to find money in other ways, such as through PACs or other non-profit issue advocacy organizations. He said he’s not wholly averse to reporting contributions, however, and suggested the creation of a website to which every candidate would periodically download contribution and expenditure data.

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August 20, 2014 •

Director of New Jersey ELEC Calls for Pay-to-Play Reform

Executive Director Jeff Brindle of the Election Law Enforcement Commission is calling for comprehensive pay-to-play reform after critics revealed a loophole in Trenton’s laws. The loophole became apparent after a South Jersey law firm was awarded a contract with the […]

New Jersey state sealExecutive Director Jeff Brindle of the Election Law Enforcement Commission is calling for comprehensive pay-to-play reform after critics revealed a loophole in Trenton’s laws. The loophole became apparent after a South Jersey law firm was awarded a contract with the city worth up to $20,000.

One of the firm’s founding partners was serving as the treasurer of a PAC when the PAC donated $8,200 to the election campaign of Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson. Because neither the law firm nor any of its partners made a donation to the PAC, the contract award was not deemed a violation of the city’s pay-to-play law.

Critics, however, want the law revised to include such contract awards. Part of Brindle’s recommendations for reform include simplifying complex laws, creating a single pay-to-play law to apply to all governments at the state, county, and local levels, and prohibiting the pay-to-play loophole for publicly bid contracts.

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July 17, 2013 •

NJ ELEC Agrees to Injunction Allowing Unrestricted Fundraising

Withdraws Advisory Opinion

Seal of New JerseyUnrestricted fundraising by political committees planning to make only independent campaign expenditures in this year’s election is now officially sanctioned by the New Jersey’s chief campaign finance regulatory agency. The New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) has agreed to a permanent injunction allowing fundraising without limits for short-term committees that assemble for no more than one election cycle.

The injunction stems out of a U.S. District Court case, which arose from an advisory opinion by ELEC. ELEC’s advisory opinion found that although Citizens United v. FEC and subsequent cases invalidated bans on limits of contributions to independent expenditure-only committees, ELEC lacked the authority to waive the limits on contributions. As part of the permanent injunction, the commission has also agreed to withdraw the advisory opinion.

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April 20, 2013 •

NJ ELEC Makes Recommendations in Annual Report

2012 Annual Report

ELEC Annual ReportIn the 2012 Annual report issued by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) on April 15, the Commission listed several recommendations and ideas to strengthen the state’s campaign finance and lobbying laws.

ELEC recommends requiring disclosure from super PACs and non-profit groups organized under Section 527 and Section 501(c) of the IRS code, requiring disclosure of lobbying activity by local vendors who are required to report pay-to-play contributions, and expanding the 48-hour notice requirement for continuing PAC expenditures to require the filing of notices for expenditures made in May municipal, runoff, school, and special elections.

Among its other recommendations, ELEC calls for the state to expand the regulation of “wheeling” to include contributions by county political party committees to other county political party committees during the entire year.

In the report, the Commission also lists general ideas to strengthen the laws, including requiring grassroots lobbying materials to list the name and address of the committee paying for the material, increasing penalties for public financing violations, and banning the use of partnership funds for the purpose of making contributions.

The annual report can be found here.

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April 16, 2013 •

Tuesday Lobbying and Campaign Finance News

Keep up with the latest government relations news with these articles:

K StreetLobbying

Bottom Line” in The Hill.

New York: “Small business speaks up during Capitol lobbying day” by Adam Sichko in the Business Review.

Campaign Finance

Senate Scrutiny of Nonprofits Spurring Disclosure: Taxes” by Jonathan D. Salant in Bloomberg.

California: “CA pushes to fine ‘independent’ campaign committee for supporting lawmaker” by Jim Sanders in the Sacramento Bee.

New Jersey: “ELEC outlines list of campaign finance priorities” by Darryl R. Isherwood in PolitickerNJ.

New York: “Overhauling campaign finance rules” opinion piece by Jeffrey D. Klein in the Albany Times Union.

Ethics

New York: “Campaign Finance Trial For Two Former Liu Associates Under Way” by The Associated Press on CBS New York.

Texas: “Bill would revise ethics oversight” by Chris Tomlinson (Associated Press) in the Austin American-Statesman.

From the State Legislatures

Minnesota:  Senate: “Time to raise pay for Minnesota’s lawmakers” by Rachel E. Stassen-Berger in the Star Tribune.

New York: “Lawmakers return to Albany after bribery scandals” by Joseph Spector in the Star Gazette.

West Virginia: “Lawmakers push for special session to address bills” by Dave Boucher in the Charleston Daily Mail.

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March 25, 2013 •

NJ ELEC Does Not Invalidate Limits on Contributions for Independent Expenditures

Advisory Opinion 01-2013

Seal of New JerseyOn March 21, 2013, the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) issued an advisory opinion deciding it does not have the jurisdiction to declare contribution limits unenforceable or unconstitutional for political committees making only independent expenditures.

Advisory Opinion 01-2013 holds current state registration and reporting requirements and contribution limits apply to political committees making independent expenditures.

Fund for Jobs and Growth, a political organization not registered in the state and intending to make independent expenditures in the state’s 2013 elections, requested the opinion in order to determine whether it needed to register and report with the state and whether the state contributions limits for political committees applied to its fundraising activity. The organization was held to be a political committee requiring registration and reporting.

While holding state contribution limits apply, the opinion notes several other jurisdictions have held contribution limits applied to political committees making independent expenditures are unconstitutional. ELEC did not find “that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has addressed these issues, nor has the United States Supreme Court issued a specific determination concerning the constitutionality of contribution limits for political committees making only independent expenditures.”

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October 15, 2012 •

ELEC Meeting Tomorrow to Consider Electronic Filing for Lobbyists’ Annual Reports

Additional Issues to be Discussed

Seal of New JerseyTomorrow at a public hearing at its offices at 11:00am, the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) will consider proposed changes to the administrative code allowing for electronic filing for lobbyists’ annual reports.

Electronic filing would be mandatory through ELEC’s website and would replace the requirement to file paper copies. Copies of what a lobbyist files electronically must be retained by the lobbyist. The proposed amendments cover governmental affairs agents, represented entities, and representatives of “persons communicating with the general public.” The proposals also make technical changes, such as substituting “represented entity” for “lobbyist” throughout the relevant sections.

Other issues to be addressed at the meeting include proposed amendments concerning campaign cost index adjustments and personal financial disclosure statements by candidates.

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September 13, 2012 •

ELEC Proposes Electronic Filing for Lobbyist Annual Reports

Hearing in October

Seal of New JerseyThe New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) has proposed changes to the administrative code allowing for electronic filing for lobbyists’ annual reports.

Electronic filing would be mandatory through ELEC’s website and would replace the requirement to file paper copies. Copies of what a lobbyist files electronically must be retained by the lobbyist.

The proposed amendments cover governmental affairs agents, represented entities, and representatives of “persons communicating with the general public.” The proposals also make technical changes, such as substituting “represented entity” for “lobbyist” throughout the relevant sections. A copy of the proposal can be found here.

ELEC will conduct a public hearing at its offices concerning this proposal on Tuesday, October 16 at 11:00 a.m.

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July 13, 2012 •

New Jersey’s ELEC Now on Facebook and Twitter

a great way to stay on top of ELEC news and updates

ELEC FacebookFollowing the work of New Jersey’s Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) has become easier through social media. According to a press release by Executive Director Jeff Brindle, the agency now has a presence on Facebook and Twitter. You’ll find updates about campaign finance, lobbying, and ethics news. This is probably the quickest way to keep up with meeting agendas and reporting dates.

ELEC has been maintaining a channel on YouTube since 2008 and now has  21 videos giving brief overviews of issues like lobbying, pay-to-play, and reporting.

A hat tip goes to John Schoonejongen, whose article, “You can now follow ELEC on Facebook, Twitter” in the Asbury Park Press, brought this news to our attention.

 

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June 20, 2012 •

NJ ELEC Votes To Raise Political Contribution Amounts

Inflation-Adjusted

ELEC news releaseThe New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) has voted unanimously to raise the inflation-adjusted limits and thresholds for political contributions beginning in 2013.

If accepted by the legislature, contributors would be able to give up to $3,800 per election to gubernatorial candidates. The contribution limits from single donors for non-gubernatorial candidates would increase from $2,600 to $3,000.

Additionally, political committee reporting thresholds for non-gubernatorial candidates and committees would increase, as would penalties for violations.

According to the press release from ELEC, gubernatorial candidates who qualify for public funding could spend a maximum of $5.6 million in primary elections and $12.2 million in general elections.

The commission has until December 15th to report to the legislature its final limits and threshold adjustments.

The ELEC 2013 Cost Index Report can be downloaded here.

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April 9, 2012 •

ELEC Says PAC Contributions from Contractors Increasing

Calls for Reform

Seal of New JerseyJeff Brindle, Executive Director of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC), has renewed efforts calling for campaign finance reform, specifically concerning political contributions from contractors.

In a press release detailing public contractors’ political contributions for 2011, ELEC’s analysis concludes that while contractors are making fewer contributions directly to candidates, they are making substantially more contributions to PACs.

Director Brindle states, “In some cases, contractors may be evading the intent of pay-to-play restrictions and contribution limits by giving indirectly through these PACs. That is why the Commission has recommended making it harder for one candidate or group to establish multiple, affiliated PACs.”

Director Brindle also reiterates the Commission’s recommendation to adopt a single statewide pay-to-play law. Previous LobbyComply blog posts discusses the earlier recommendations can be found here and here.

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