The Democratic and Republican state parties and the state’s four legislative leadership committees raised a combined $981,798 in the first quarter of 2019, the smallest haul in at least a decade after adjustment for inflation, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.
Democrats raised and spent more than their Republican counterparts, with the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee almost doubling $123,673 brought in by Assembly Republican Victory, its GOP equivalent.
The DACC brought in $231,100 over the first quarter of the year, but it also outspent ASV four times over, $169,924 to $41,769. Despite that, the Democratic group ended the year with significantly more cash banked.
The DACC had $696,998 in its coffers at the end of the reporting period, while ASV had a comparatively measly $268,935. The Republican state party and leadership committees ended the quarter with $722,679 in their war chests.
The three Democratic groups had a combined $1,146,038 banked.
Elec Executive Director Jeff Brindle said the sub-par fundraising haul reinforced the need for reforms in the state and used the opportunity to call for Gov. Phil Murphy to sign into law a bill that would increase disclosure requirements for some dark money groups, including for 501(c)(4) groups like the Murphy-aligned New Direction New Jersey.
“Their continuing fund-raising woes are more reason the Legislature should consider approving ELEC recommendations to try to reverse this trend,” Brindle said. “ELEC’s suggested reforms include raising general contribution limits for party and candidate committees, and easing tight pay-to-play contribution restrictions from parties and instead imposing them on political action committees.”
The Assembly version of the bill, which cut out provisions targeting New Direction New Jersey that existed in a version passed by the senate in February, sailed through both chambers of the legislature in late March.
The bill would also increase contribution limits to political parties, a policy change long sought by ELEC. Brindle said such a change would direct funds towards party organizations and away from political action committees and other types of dark money groups.
The Democratic State Committee raised $244,466 in the first quarter of 2019, while the Republican state committee brought in $213,905. The former group ended the quarter with $160,890 on hand, while the latter had $226,203.
The Democratic fundraising lead on the Assembly side may be credited towards Democratic donors’ focus on the year’s Assembly elections. At $112,250 raised, the Republican Senate leadership committee, Senate Republican Majority, doubled the fundraising of its Democratic equivalent.
Senate Democratic Majority raised $56,404 in the first quarter, though the Democratic group ended the period with more cash on hand, $288,150 to the Republican group’s $226,203.
“Parties are an essential part of our political system. Steps need to be taken to prevent them from being rendered irrelevant by the growing clout of these independent spenders,” Brindle said. “S-1500/A-1524 is a step toward aligning disclosure requirements of independent groups with those of parties and candidates.”