Home>Governor>Murphy declines to say if he’ll fill Republican vacancy on ELEC board

The headquarters of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission in Trenton. (Photo: ELEC.)

Murphy declines to say if he’ll fill Republican vacancy on ELEC board

By Nikita Biryukov, June 09 2021 2:38 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy declined to say whether he planned to nominate another Republican to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.

“I’ve got no crisp reply on the law enforcement commission,” he said during Wednesday’s virus briefing.

ELEC, the body tasked with administrating the state’s campaign finance laws, has had a partisan imbalance for nearly four years.

Two Democrats and a single Republican sit on the commission’s board, though the lack of balance has drawn little in the way of criticism so far.

ELEC rarely makes decisions along party lines, and adding another Republican member would not have, for example, changed its decision to deny Hudson County pastor Phil Rizzo public matching funds for his gubernatorial bid.

Rizzo placed second in the Tuesday’s Republican primary. He likely would have fared better with access to the millions of dollars the public financing program makes available. His application was denied because he filed late and without required information about campaign spending.

Eric Jaso, the commission’s chair, is a Republican who was nominated by Gov. Chris Christie in 2016. He previously served on the Congressional Redistricting Commission and as an assistant U.S. Attorney under Christie.

Retired Superior Court Judges Stephen Holden and Marguerite Simon, both Democrats, hold the two other filled seats on ELEC’s board.

The commission hasn’t had its full cohort since November 2011, when former judge Lawrence Weiss died in office. The vacancy has drawn little attention in that time, though Republican State Chairman Michael Lavery hit the governor over it Wednesday.

“It’s as clear as day that Governor Murphy’s non-answer as to whether or not he will allow the Republican vacancy on the Election Law Enforcement Commission to be filled signals his desire to rig the November election in his favor by tipping the scales in Democrats’ favor on the Commission,” Lavery said in a statement sent the New Jersey Globe after this story was published.

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