The New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission on Tuesday denied an application for public campaign financing submitted by the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Phil Rizzo.
Politico New Jersey was first to report the denial.
The decision is a major blow to Rizzo, a Hudson County pastor who launched a campaign for the GOP nomination after Republican organizations around the state named former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli as their pick against Gov. Phil Murphy.
The commission said Rizzo’s campaign filed a P-1 form, meant to demonstrate a candidate has raised the $490,000 needed to qualify for public funds, a day after the April 5 deadline and failed to disclose how he planned to spend the roughly $537,000 his campaign raised at time of filing.
Candidates are supposed to have signed that say how they plan to spend campaign contributions.
The state’s public fund matching awards qualified candidates $2 for every $1 raised up to a cap of $4.6 million for the primary. Both Ciattarelli and Murphy have qualified for public fund matching.
The incumbent has already maxed out his fund match for the primary, while Ciattarelli has received just shy of $2.9 million.
Rizzo can take the matter to the courts, though it’s unclear if he’ll do so. A spokesperson for his campaign did not return requests for comment made Tuesday.
More public funds are available for general election candidates, who can receive up to $10.5 million in matching funds.
Candidates who accept the public money are subject to spending limits, with expenditures limited to $7.3 million in the primary and $15.6 million in the general.