Home>Campaigns>ELEC files complaints against four state campaign committees for alleged 2017 transgressions

Former Democratic State Chairman John Currie. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

ELEC files complaints against four state campaign committees for alleged 2017 transgressions

Three Democratic committees, one Republican committee may receive substantial fines

By Joey Fox, January 04 2023 11:30 am

The New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) filed complaints against four of the state’s main party committees today, accusing them of committing a variety of campaign finance misdeeds during the 2017 election cycle.

The complaints allege that the Democratic State Committee (DSC), the Republican State Committee (RSC), the Senate Democratic Majority, and the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee failed to follow various campaign finance laws in the 2017 elections. When it ultimately releases its final decisions, ELEC has the ability to levy significant fines against the four committees.

“Disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures, particularly before an election, is our agency’s main mandate,” ELEC deputy director Joe Donohue said. “One way we ensure compliance is to periodically audit reports of various groups, including the so-called Big Six. Many of the violations we allege involved contributions or expenses that were not adequately disclosed.”

Such complaints against party committees are uncommon, but far from unheard of. Since the 1970s, ELEC has filed four complaints against the DSC and three against the RSC (not including those released today); one major case in 2006 resulted in $255,000 in fines against the DSC, ELEC’s largest fine ever.

The complaints released today focus on alleged failures to properly report campaign contributions and expenditures. In some cases, the transgressions are relatively minor – such as failing to list the occupation of campaign contributors or the vendor address for credit card expenditures – while others are more significant, concerning large contributions that were not reported before the 2017 election at all.

On a dollar basis, Democrats were by far the bigger offenders. The complaints against the three Democratic committees cover a total of $875,962 in contributions and $1,101,790 in expenditures; the complaint against the RSC, on the other hand, concerns a comparatively paltry $5,000 in contributions and $10,085 in expenditures.

The magnitude of the ultimate fines against the four committees is an open question, as is the timeline for when a final decision will be released. The complaint against the DSC that led to the $255,000 fine, for example, was filed in October 2004 (for violations from the 2001 campaign cycle), but the final decision wasn’t released until March 2006.

DSC Complaint 1:4
RSC Complaint 1:4
SDM Complaint 1:4
DACC Complaint 1:4
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