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New Jersey State Senate. Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Senate approves increase in contribution limits, transparency

Bill requires advocacy groups to release donors

By David Wildstein, February 21 2019 6:08 pm

A bill that would force independent advocacy groups to disclose their donors was approved by the New Jersey Senate today.

The legislation also raises the limits on individual contributions to campaigns from $2,600 to $3,000, and from $8,200 to $9,300 to political committees.  Limits on contributions to state political parties and legislative leadership committees from $25,000 to $28,000.

The updates also include increasing the limit on contributions from a national political party to a state party from $72,000 to $82,000.

Contributions limits to party organizations would increase:

* County parties: from $37,000 to $42,000
* Municipal parties: from $7,200 to $8,200

The proposal would require contributions over $10,000 and expenditures over $3,000 by organizations that seek to influence state elections, referendums and legislation be reported to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).

“Bringing greater transparency through more disclosure will help empower voters,” said State Sen. Troy Singleton (D-Delran), the primary sponsor. “They deserve more information about the interests working to influence the legislative, regulatory and political processes so they can make informed decisions. Full disclosure will improve the process of government and enhance public confidence.”

The top 25 special interest groups in the state spent a combined $74 million to influence elections and policy issues, including $41 million in “dark money contributions from corporations, individuals and unions, ELEC says.

“This reform measure will lift the veil of secrecy that surrounds the actions of organizations working to influence the political process,” said another sponsor, State Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro). “As candidates, we disclose our donors and expenditures. The disclosure requirements should extend to the groups that are spending to get favored outcomes.”

The bill passed 31-0 and now heads to the Assembly.

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