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Former Election Law Enforcement Commissioner Stephen Holden. (Photo: NJ Globe).

Two ELEC commissioners who quit look to rescind resignations

Meeting of watchdog agency to discuss Election Transparency Act set for Tuesday

By David Wildstein, May 05 2023 3:25 pm

Two former members of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission have pulled back their resignations and plan to hold a meeting to discuss plans to implement the Election Transparency Act that some say effectively gutted the agency.

Stephen Holden and Marguerite Simon resigned in March in protest of the legislature’s passage of a controversial bill that raised campaign contribution limits, increased reporting requirements, and established a two-year statute of limitations on campaign finance violations.

The new law allows Gov. Phil Murphy to directly appoint four new commissioners with a one-time exemption on confirmation by the State Senate.

Holden and Simon, both retired Superior Court judges and Democrats, are seeking to withdraw letters of resignation sent to Murphy on March 30 since the resignations were never accepted.  Another commissioner, Republican Eric Jaso, is not seeking to regain his seat.

“Because you have used political blunt force to neuter and co-opt this venerable and honorable agency, I can no longer faithfully serve the purposes the Legislature originally intended,” Jaso, the now-former commission chairman, said in a scathing letter to Murphy. “Accordingly, I hereby resign, effective immediately.”

Holden told the New Jersey Globe that he was “concerned about the institution.”

“We’re concerned about the lack of a commission at the helm and our resignations have not been accepted,” Holden said.  “In light of the statute that says holdover commissioners serve until successors are appointed, our concern is that the institution has t be responsive.  Somebody has to move forward.

It’s not immediately clear if Holden and Simon can withdraw their resignations.

An agenda for Tuesday’s ELEC  meeting includes a report on the status of the commission and commissioners, the Election Transparency Act, and “planning for rulemaking activity to implement the Election Transparency Act.”

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