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Senate panel advances 501(c)4 disclosure bill

By Nikita Biryukov, January 17 2019 4:39 pm

The Senate Budget Committee unanimously advanced a measure to require certain dark money groups, including 501(c)4 groups like New Direction New Jersey and General Growth Fund, on Thursday.

“There’s a growing cynicism that happens between the public and those who are elected to represent them pretty much on all levels of government,” State Sen. Troy Singleton, the bill’s co-sponsor, said. “Bringing greater transparency through more disclosure will help empower voters. They deserve more information about the interests working to influence the political process so they can make informed decisions. Full disclosure will improve the process of government and enhance public confidence.”

The bill would require independent expenditure groups disclose the identities of those contributing more than $10,000 and to expenditures worth more than $3,000.

Those disclosure requirements apply to groups attempting to influence the outcome of an election or public question, as well as those supporting or opposing a given piece of legislation.

The bill, which has the support of the State Election Law Enforcement Commission, also raises the contribution limits to candidates and political parties.

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

While most groups supported the measure, some expressed concerns over a measure that would allow unlimited transfers between county and state political parties over fears that such transfers would create new avenues for dark money.

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