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Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Coughlin favors transparency on Murphy-aligned non-profit

Group reneged on promise to disclose donors

By Nikita Biryukov, January 07 2019 7:07 pm

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin on Monday suggested that a non-profit group with ties to Gov. Phil Murphy should disclose its donors, adding to similar calls made by Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean and Murphy himself.

“I’m all in favor of transparency,” Coughlin said. “Generally speaking, I’m in favor of annual reporting, and I think there might be some legislation on that subject, and I’ve asked staff to take a look at that.”

The group, New Direction New Jersey, is a 501(c)4 headed by former Murphy campaign staffers Brendan Gill, Brad Lawrence and Steve DeMicco. Legally, the group is not required to disclose its donors but pledged to do so by the end of 2018.

On Dec. 28, a spokesman for the group told the New Jersey Globe it would not be releasing its donors due to a “toxic political environment.”

While the group isn’t required to disclose its donors under current law, that could change. States are allowed to supplement federal transparency rules, including ones related to donor disclosure, for non-profit groups, said Brendan Quinn of the Center for Responsive Politics, which monitors lobbying activity.

While Coughlin did not say there were any specific plans for such laws, he didn’t close the door on them either.

“We’re going to take a look at what’s on the books, and then we’ll make a decision on that,” Coughlin said when asked if he supported passing a law to mandate donor disclosure by groups like New Direction New Jersey.

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