Home>Highlight>Dark money override conversations ongoing, Zwicker says

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick)

Dark money override conversations ongoing, Zwicker says

No decision on vote during Monday sessions

By Nikita Biryukov, June 06 2019 3:03 pm

Conversations about an override on a dark money bill Gov. Phil Murphy conditionally vetoed last month are still ongoing, the bill’s main Assembly sponsor said Thursday.

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker said caucus leaders have not yet decided whether to post the override for a vote on Monday, when both the Assembly and Senate are in session.

Conversations, he said, are ongoing.

The bill is at the center of a conflict between Murphy and Senate President Steve Sweeney.

Though both said they support the measure — which would require certain non-profit groups, including 501(c)(4) non-profits like the Murphy-aligned New Direction New Jersey, to disclose a list of their donors in some circumstances — they’ve been unable to reach a deal on the bill’s specifics.

A amendment in the bill that many saw as targeting Essex County Freeholder President Brendan Gill, Murphy’s former campaign manager, was the first, and potentially the largest, of the roadblocks the bill has faced.

The provision would bar elected officials from serving on the board of a 501(c)(4). Gill serves as a senior advisor to the group. It’s not clear whether the bill would force him out of that role.

A two-thirds majority vote in both chambers is needed to override a Murphy’s veto.

Though the governor has some allies in the lower chamber, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin would have little trouble marshalling the votes needed to get 54 votes there.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick said his caucus would lend its votes to an override effort Thursday morning.

“There is overwhelming support to override the governor’s ‘dark money’ veto in the Assembly Republican caucus,” Bramnick said.  “Transparency is desperately needed, and this important piece of legislation would help restore the public’s trust in government.”

The measure’s prospects in the Senate are less clear.

Twenty-seven votes are needed to override a bill in the legislature’s upper chamber.

Democrats hold 26 seats in the State Senate, and a small number of those seats are held by Murphy allies.

Unlike his Assembly Counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean has not pledged his caucus’s votes to the bill.

It’s possible Kean and his caucus would back an override — it would embarrass Murphy, if nothing else — but both minority leaders employed a 501(c)(4), called the Center for a Better New Jersey, to aid Republicans during 2011’s redistricting fight.

Democratic legislative leaders will need to square away votes in the upper chamber before any movement happens on a potential override, since the bill has to start in the Senate.

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