ASSEMBLY, No. 100

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

213th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JUNE 12, 2008

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman LOUIS D. GREENWALD

District 6 (Camden)

Assemblywoman AMY H. HANDLIN

District 13 (Middlesex and Monmouth)

Assemblyman GORDON M. JOHNSON

District 37 (Bergen)

Assemblywoman VALERIE VAINIERI HUTTLE

District 37 (Bergen)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Creates “The 2009 New Jersey Fair and Clean Elections Pilot Project Act.”

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act creating a pilot project for the public financing of candidates seeking nomination and election to the office of member of the General Assembly in 2009.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    This act shall be known and may be cited as “The 2009 New Jersey Fair and Clean Elections Pilot Project Act."

 

     2.  The Legislature finds and declares that:

     a.  On March 28, 2007, P.L.2007, c.60 was enacted, creating the “2007 New Jersey Fair and Clean Elections Pilot Project Act.”

     b.  The 2007 pilot project was based on similar programs in Arizona and Maine and the initial 2005 pilot project created by P.L.2004, c.121, signed into law on August 11, 2004, which sought to have candidates for election to the office of member of the General Assembly in two legislative districts seek office with equal financial resources.

     c.  The 2007 pilot project involved the election of members of the Senate and General Assembly in three districts, one of which had incumbents of one political party, another of which had incumbents of another political party, and the third of which was competitive between both parties.

     d.  It is generally agreed that this pilot project was a success because in those districts, 20 candidates sought to participate in the project and ultimately 16 did so by becoming certified clean elections candidates.

     e.  The 2005 and 2007 projects have proven that the erosion in public confidence in the political process can be countered by establishing a voluntary, publicly funded campaign finance system for legislative office that mitigates access to large financial contributors as a major determining factor within the political process.

     f.  P.L.    , c.   (pending before the Legislature as this bill) embodies changes to the previous projects suggested by participants in and observers of previous pilot projects, and it includes primary and general elections for candidates seeking the office of member of the General Assembly in eight districts in 2009.

     g.     The 2009 pilot project’s goal is the same as that of previous projects: to improve the unfavorable opinion that many residents of this State have toward the political process, strengthen the integrity of that process, and improve access to it by many individuals and groups who have traditionally not been part of the political process in New Jersey.

     h. After the lessons of the 2009 pilot project have been carefully evaluated by the public and the Legislature, it is the Legislature’s intention to enact a permanent, comprehensive, fully-functioning clean elections program, based on the experiences of previous projects, that will be available to every candidate for the offices of member of the Senate and General Assembly in each of the State’s 40 legislative districts.

 

     3.    As used in this act:

     "Candidate intending to become certified" means a candidate from a participating district, as designated by section 6 of this act, who seeks nomination and election to the office of member of the General Assembly pursuant to this act and is seeking certification pursuant to section 10 of this act.

     "Certified candidate" means a candidate seeking nomination and election to the office of member of the General Assembly who has chosen to seek such office pursuant to the provisions of this act, and is certified pursuant to section 10 of this act.

     "Commission" means the Election Law Enforcement Commission, established pursuant to section 5 of P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-5).

     "Fund" means the New Jersey Fair and Clean Elections Fund, established pursuant to section 5 of this act.

     "Noncertified candidate" means a candidate seeking nomination and election to the office of member of the General Assembly in participating districts who does not seek office pursuant to the provisions of this act and is not certified pursuant to section 10 of this act.

     “Political party committee” has the same meaning as provided in subsection p. of section 3 of P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-3).

     "Qualifying contribution" means a contribution of $10 given by an individual who is registered to vote and resides in the district the candidate seeks to represent that is contributed during the qualifying period to a candidate intending to become certified, with at least 400 such contributions needed to receive the minimum amount of public funding and at least 800 such contributions needed to receive the maximum amount of public funding, pursuant to section 12 of this act.

     "Qualifying period" means the period during which both seed money contributions and qualifying contributions can be collected, for the primary election beginning February 16, 2009 and ending on May 15, 2009, and for candidates who have not collected a sufficient number of qualifying contributions to become certified prior to the primary election, ending on August 14, 2009.

     "Seed money contribution" means a contribution of money of no more than $500 given by any individual registered to vote in this State, including the candidate and candidate’s immediate family, but not including a candidate committee, joint candidates committee, political committee, continuing political committee, political party committee or legislative leadership committee, to a candidate intending to become certified, up to a limit of $10,000 in the aggregate.

 

     4.    There is established a pilot project for the public financing of the campaigns of candidates seeking nomination and election to the office of member of the General Assembly from eight legislative districts in 2009, selected pursuant to section 6 of this act.  The pilot project shall also be open to candidates for election to those offices in those districts who are nominated directly by petition.  Candidates participating in this pilot project shall comply with the applicable provisions of the "The New Jersey Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Reporting Act," P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-1 et seq.), unless otherwise provided by this act.

 

     5.    a.  There is established in the Department of the Treasury a special fund to be known as the "New Jersey Fair and Clean Elections Fund," hereafter referred to as the fund, to be held separate and apart from all other funds of the State. 

     b.    Moneys from the following sources shall be deposited in the fund:

     (1) voluntary donations made directly to the fund;

     (2) all earnings received from the investment of money in the fund;

     (3) fines and penalties collected by the commission pursuant to section 20 of this act;

     (4) money returned to the fund by candidates who withdraw from being certified candidates, pursuant to section 11 of this act; and

     (5) money returned or not disbursed pursuant to the statutes establishing previous clean elections pilot projects.

     c. The Legislature shall appropriate to the commission out of the "New Jersey Fair and Clean Elections Fund" established by subsection a. of this section, and if necessary, out of the General Treasury of the State such sums as are necessary to carry out the purposes of this act.  The sums shall be used to finance the primary and general election campaigns of certified candidates in 2009 in such amounts and proportions as the Legislature shall direct the appropriation to be distributed between each of the two elections, to be regulated and distributed by the commission pursuant to this act.  Upon notice by the commission, the Legislature shall appropriate to the commission out of the General Treasury such additional sums as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this act if the sums first appropriated become inadequate.

 

     6.    Eight legislative districts shall be selected to participate in the pilot project established by this act.  They shall be selected as follows.

     a.  The Speaker of the General Assembly shall select two districts to participate in the pilot project established by this act from among the following legislative districts: the 1st, 4th, 6th, 7th, 14th, 18th, 22nd, 36th, and 37th.  The Minority Leader of the General Assembly shall select two districts to participate in the pilot project established by this act from among the following legislative districts: the 2nd, 8th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 21st, 24th, 25th, and 39th.  The Speaker and the Minority Leader shall make their selections and so notify in writing the chairs of the two political parties whose candidates received the greatest and next greatest number of votes in the most recent previous election to elect a candidate for the office of Governor no later than February 2, 2009.

     b. (1) The Speaker of the General Assembly and the Minority Leader of the General Assembly shall each select one individual to serve as a member of a district selection committee no later than January 1, 2009.  No individual selected shall hold office in a political party or any elective public office as of the date of his or her selection, though such a member may have held party or elective public office prior to selection.  The members of the committee shall together select a member of the public to serve as the third member and chair of the committee no later than January 8, 2009.  In the event the members are unable to agree on the selection of the third member by January 9, 2009, they shall so notify the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey, who shall appoint the third member no later than January 16, 2009.  No more than two members of the committee shall be members of the same political party.  Any vacancy among members of the committee shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment was made.

     (2) A slate of two candidates for the office of member of the General Assembly in any legislative district other than a district selected pursuant to subsection a. of this section may also seek to have the district in which they are seeking nomination and election participate in the pilot project by filing a request, in writing, with the district selection committee no later than February 9, 2009.  The committee shall select by majority vote four such districts to participate in the pilot project, unless there are fewer than four applicants, in which case those districts shall be selected.  If the committee does need to choose among applying districts, it shall consider the following criteria in the following order, as it pertains to a district: (a) the number of candidates in the district seeking to participate in the pilot project; (b) whether the district was one of the 18 districts identified in subsection a. of this section but not selected by either legislative leader to participate; and (c) geographic diversity.  The committee shall make its selections and so notify in writing all candidates in the selected districts and chairs of the two political parties whose candidates received the greatest and next greatest number of votes in the most recent previous election to elect a candidate for the office of Governor no later than February 13, 2009.

     c. The legislative districts selected shall be those districts as approved by the Apportionment Commission on April 11, 2001 and described in the corrected plan for legislative districts filed with the New Jersey Secretary of State on April 17, 2001.

 

     7.    a. Following the selection of districts pursuant to section 6 of this act, each candidate who intends to become certified shall:

     (1) sign and file a declaration of intent to seek certification and to comply with the requirements of this act, which shall be filed with the commission at any time during the qualifying period, using the forms and procedures developed by the commission pursuant to section 21 of this act;

     (2) begin to accept seed money contributions and qualifying contributions under section 9 of this act; and

     (3) except as permitted by section 9 of this act, suspend for the time the candidate is a candidate intending to become certified access that candidate has to the funds of the candidate committee of that candidate, including those that the candidate has as part of a joint candidates committee, which have been raised prior to becoming a candidate intending to become certified.  Nothing in this subsection shall preclude such a candidate from satisfying outstanding financial obligations incurred as a result of previous campaigns for elective public office from funds the candidate had in an account of the candidate prior to becoming a candidate intending to become certified.  Any additional collection of contributions for this purpose may begin only the day after the day of the 2009 general election, unless the candidate ceases to be a participant in the pilot project established by this act, in which case the collection of contributions to satisfy previous debt may begin immediately upon such cessation.

     b.    Any candidate intending to become certified who does not file a declaration of intent to seek certification by the last day of the qualifying period for the general election shall be considered a noncertified candidate and precluded from becoming a certified candidate in the 2009 general election.

 

     8.  a.  (1) A candidate intending to become certified and seeking nomination and election to the office of member of the General Assembly shall form a slate together with any other candidate intending to become certified, who is a member of the same political party in the same legislative district, and seeking nomination for elective office from that district.  The candidates in such a slate shall be required to become certified candidates together and shall seek nomination and election together, and may coordinate their campaigns for nomination and for election to the office of member of the General Assembly to the full extent permitted by this act and current law.

     (2) (a) In the event there are several separate slates of candidates who are members of the same political party who seek nomination at the same election in the same district, the candidate who receives the greatest number of votes at that election and the candidate who receives the next greatest number of votes at that election shall form a new slate and seek election together if they are either certified candidates or candidates intending to become certified, regardless of whether they were affiliated previously with a different candidate or slate.  Such candidates may seek certification separately or jointly, if they have not done so already, and may coordinate their campaigns for the general election to the full extent permitted by this act or existing law.

     (b) In the event that a noncertified candidate and either a certified candidate or a candidate intending to become certified are nominated at the primary election by members of the same political party and in the same legislative district, the two candidates shall form a new slate and seek election together in the general election as certified candidates if the noncertified candidate becomes a candidate intending to become certified and collects 400 qualifying contributions no later than the end of the qualifying period.  Such candidates may coordinate their campaigns for the general election to the full extent permitted by this act or existing law.

     (3) A candidate intending to become certified who is a member of a political group that is permitted to register its members by use of a voter registration form or that is named on a political party affiliation declaration form approved by the Secretary of State as of the enactment date of this act shall form a slate with another candidate who is intending to become certified and is a member of the same political group and in the same district, and the candidates shall be required to become certified candidates together and shall seek election together, and may coordinate their campaigns to the full extent permitted by this act or existing law.

     (4) A certified candidate or a candidate intending to become certified who is not a member of a political group that is permitted to register its members by use of a voter registration form or that is not named on a political party affiliation declaration form approved by the Secretary of State as of the enactment date of this act, or is not a member of any other political group, may form a slate with another such candidate in the same district and may coordinate his or her campaign for the general election with that candidate to the full extent permitted by this act or existing law.

     b.  (1) No candidate intending to become certified shall be permitted to make a seed money contribution or a qualifying contribution to another candidate intending to become certified who is seeking nomination and election to the office of member of the General Assembly in a different slate or legislative district; except that a candidate intending to become certified who is in a slate shall be permitted to make a seed money contribution and a qualifying contribution to another candidate intending to become certified that is in the same slate and the same legislative district.

     (2) No certified candidate or candidate intending to become certified shall transfer any amount of money received from seed money contributions, qualifying contributions or received from the fund to a certified candidate, a noncertified candidate or a candidate intending to become certified seeking nomination and election to the office of member of the General Assembly in a different legislative district; or to a candidate for an elective office in any county or municipality; or to a political committee, continuing political committee, candidate committee, joint candidates committee, legislative leadership committee or political party committee; except that there shall be no limit on the amount of money received from seed money contributions, qualifying contributions or from the fund that a certified candidate or a candidate intending to become certified in a slate in a particular legislative district can contribute to or expend on behalf of another certified candidate or candidate intending to become certified in the same slate and the same legislative district.

 

     9.    After filing a declaration of intent, and prior to certification as a certified candidate, a candidate intending to become certified shall collect seed money contributions and qualifying contributions, starting on February 16, 2009 and continuing for the remainder of the qualifying period.

     a.     (1) A candidate intending to become certified shall obtain seed money contributions in amounts of no more than $500 per individual, up to a maximum of $10,000 in the aggregate.  Such funds shall be raised and spent by a candidate during the qualifying period while the candidate seeks the required number of qualifying contributions.  Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, no seed money contributions shall be accepted from an individual who is not a registered voter in this State, nor from a candidate committee, joint candidates committee, political committee, continuing political committee or legislative leadership committee.

     (2) A candidate intending to become certified may use funds raised and reported to the commission pursuant to P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-1 et seq.) prior to becoming such a candidate as part of the seed money collected by a candidate intending to become certified, but only to the extent that such money can be attributable to contributions of $500 or less from individuals who are registered to vote in this State.

     (3) Seed money contributions shall be in the form of cash, check, money order, electronic check, debit card, or credit card payable to one or more candidates intending to become certified.

     (4) Seed money contributions shall be deposited by the candidate or an individual associated with his or her campaign as soon as possible into an account separate from all other accounts but in the name of the candidate in a banking institution holding a State or federal charter.  No such funds shall be transferred subsequently into an investment account of any type or used by the candidate for the purpose of gambling.  The candidate shall file a report with the commission on the amount of seed money contributions collected at the same time as the candidate files reports on the number of qualifying contributions collected, as required by this section.  The report shall be made on the forms required by this subsection.

     (5) De minimus, in-kind contributions of seed money that have a fair market value of $200 or less per individual per year shall be permitted and not counted toward the $10,000 seed money maximum.  Pursuant to section 21 of this act, the commission shall use current Federal Election Commission regulations to define what constitutes a de minimus, in-kind contribution of seed money, especially with respect to events held in an individual’s home to raise qualifying contributions.

     (6) Each seed money contribution shall be accompanied by a form developed by the commission.  The form for non-cash contributions shall: (a) be as clear, concise and easy to use as possible; (b) serve as the acknowledgement of one or more contributions by one or more individuals to a single candidate; and (c) include such other identifying information deemed appropriate by the commission.  The form for cash contributions shall: (a) be as clear, concise and easy to use as possible; (b) include the contributor’s name, mailing address, contact telephone number and the date of the contribution; (c) be signed by the individual; (d) include an affirmation that the contribution is made without knowing intention to commit fraud; and (e) include such additional information deemed appropriate by the commission.

     b.    (1) A candidate intending to become certified shall obtain qualifying contributions of $10 per individual during the qualifying period from at least 400 registered voters residing in the district the candidate is seeking to represent.  Such individuals may include the candidate and the candidate’s immediate family.  No such funds shall be spent by a candidate during the qualifying period.  No qualifying contributions shall be accepted from a candidate committee, joint candidates committee, political committee, continuing political committee or legislative leadership committee.

     (2) Qualifying contributions shall be in the form of cash, check, money order, electronic check, debit card, or credit card payable to the one or more candidate intending to become certified.  No such contribution shall be in the form of an in-kind contribution.

     (3) All qualifying contributions shall be deposited by the candidate or an individual associated with his or her campaign as soon as possible into an account separate from all other accounts but in the name of the candidate in a banking institution holding a State or federal charter.  No such funds shall be transferred subsequently into an investment account of any type or used by the candidate for the purpose of gambling.  The candidate shall notify the commission within three business days when he or she has received at least 400 qualifying contributions, and thereafter shall file a report biweekly listing the number and aggregate dollar amount of qualifying contributions received to date and such other information about the contributions as may be required by the commission.

     (4) Each qualifying contribution shall be accompanied by a form developed by the commission.  The form for non-cash contributions shall: (a) be as clear, concise and easy to use as possible; (b) serve as the acknowledgement of one or more contributions by one or more individuals to a single candidate; and (c) include such other identifying information deemed appropriate by the commission, except that such information shall not include the name and mailing address of the employer of the individual.  The form for cash contributions shall: (a) be as clear, concise and easy to use as possible; (b) include the contributors name, mailing address, contact number and the date of the contribution; (c) be signed by the individual; (d) include an affirmation that the contribution is made without knowing intention to commit fraud; and (e) include such additional information deemed appropriate by the commission, except that such information shall not include the name and mailing address of the employer of the individual.

     c.     Each candidate intending to become certified shall be permitted to create and use a qualifying contribution form, based on the requirements established by this act and the commission, to mail to potential contributors, provided the candidate submits a draft of the form to the commission and the commission does not disapprove of the draft form within 24 hours of its receipt.

     d.    An individual shall be permitted to make both a seed money contribution and a qualifying contribution to one or more candidates intending to become certified.

     e.     Joint checking account holders shall be permitted to make a qualifying contribution, a seed money contribution, or both, using one check that is signed by one account holder; if both persons holding a joint checking account wish to make a seed money contribution, a qualifying contribution, or both, the check need not include the signature of each person.  Each such individual shall not be required to sign the contribution form required by this section if both contributors’ names appear on the check.

     f.     The following activities shall be permitted and not counted as an in-kind contribution to a certified candidate or a candidate intending to become certified:

     (1) personal services performed by an individual, a political party committee or another association, organization or group on a voluntary, non-compensated basis for the purpose of collecting seed money contributions, qualifying contributions, or both, and the collection of signatures on petitions of nomination;

     (2) communications in writing, or delivered via telephone or the Internet, in support of or in opposition to the nomination and election of any candidate by a labor organization or membership organization or other such association to its members and their families, or by any association, group or organization, other than a labor organization, to its members and their families; and

     (3) communications to the general public in any form by any means undertaken by any organization, group, association or business that seeks to disseminate information in any form about this act that is neither in support of, or in opposition to, the nomination or election of any candidate.

     g.     Except as provided otherwise by this act, all cash contributions shall be subject to the provisions of P.L.1973, c.82 (C.19:44A-1 et seq.), as amended and supplemented.

     h.     (1) Unless the candidate has already begun reporting as required by subsection b. of this section, starting on March 19, 2009 and continuing biweekly thereafter, each candidate that has signed and filed a declaration of intent to become certified shall file with the commission a report listing the number and aggregate dollar amount of qualifying contributions received to date and such other information about the contributions as may be required by the commission.  Nothing in this subsection shall preclude a candidate intending to become certified from becoming certified before March 19, 2009 for the primary election or, for a candidate who has not collected a sufficient number of qualifying and seed money contributions by the primary election, from becoming certified before August 14, 2009.

     (2) Each candidate intending to become certified who is nominated by direct petition filed with the Secretary of State pursuant to chapter 13 of Title 19 of the Revised Statutes may start collecting seed money and qualifying contributions before his or her petitions of nomination are filed with the secretary.  Unless the candidate has already begun reporting as required by subsection b. of this section, starting on the 30th day after the candidate signs and files a declaration of intent to become a certified candidate, and  biweekly thereafter, such a candidate intending to become certified shall file with the commission a report listing the number and aggregate dollar amount of qualifying contributions received to date and such other information about the contributions as may be required by the commission.  Nothing in this subsection shall preclude a candidate intending to become certified from becoming certified before the 30th day after the candidate signs and files a declaration of intent to become certified.

     i.      In addition to the types of contributions provided for in this section, an individual shall be permitted to make a seed money contribution, a qualifying contribution, or both, to a candidate intending to become certified by means of the Internet.  Such a contribution shall be accompanied by an electronic version of the forms required by this section and may be made on the website of the candidate if such a site exists. The commission shall establish a link on its own website to other websites collecting such contributions and shall provide technical assistance to candidates intending to become certified seeking to collect contributions by means of the Internet.

     j.     The commission shall ensure the rapid transmission and public access to the reports required by this section and, wherever possible, shall use electronic means for receiving, reporting, storing and displaying such information.

 

     10.  a. The commission shall certify a candidate intending to become certified if he or she has:

     (1) received at least 400 qualifying contributions by May 15, 2009 for either a candidate seeking to be certified for the primary election or a candidate who is a member of a political group that is permitted to register its members by use of a voter registration form or that is named on a political party affiliation form approved by the Secretary of State as of the enactment date of this act and seeking election by direct nomination by petition pursuant to chapter 13 of Title 19 of the Revised Statutes, or by August 14, 2009 for any other candidate seeking to be certified for the general election, from registered voters residing within the candidate’s district, pursuant to section 8 of this act;

     (2) not accepted other contributions, except for seed money contributions and qualifying contributions, and otherwise complied with the contribution restrictions of this act;

     (3) in the case of a candidate seeking certification for the primary election: (a) submitted to the Secretary of State a petition of nomination with the required number of valid signatures necessary to nominate a candidate to be voted for by the voters of a political party, pursuant to chapter 23 of Title 19 of the Revised Statutes; and (b) received the minimum number of qualifying contributions by May 15, 2009; and

     (4) otherwise met the requirements to be considered a certified candidate pursuant to this act.

     b.    The commission shall certify a candidate intending to become certified as soon as possible, and in any case no later than three days after the candidate makes his or her final submission of qualifying contributions.  A certified candidate shall comply with the provisions of this act after certification and through the general election.

     c. A candidate intending to become certified who is certified during the qualifying period shall continue to be a certified candidate in the general election provided that, in the case of a candidate who is a member of a political party, the candidate is nominated for election at the primary election.  A candidate intending to become certified who is not certified prior to the primary election, but who is elected at the primary election, may continue to collect qualifying contributions and seed money contributions in an attempt to become certified for the general election until August 14, 2009.  Such certified candidates in the general election shall comply with the relevant provisions of this act and shall receive moneys from the fund for the general election pursuant to section 12 of this act.

     d.    After certification, a candidate shall limit his or her campaign expenditures and obligations, including outstanding obligations, to the moneys in the candidate’s qualifying contribution account, including qualifying contributions and moneys distributed to the candidate from the fund and shall not accept any other contributions, including seed money, unless specifically authorized by this act or the commission.  Unless prohibited specifically by this act, all moneys distributed to certified candidates from the fund shall be used only for the purposes provided in section 17 of P.L.1993, c.65 (C.19:44A-11.2).

     e.     If a certified candidate is not nominated for election at the primary election preceding the general election held in 2009, the candidate shall either return all unspent seed money and qualifying contributions collected to contributors thereof on a pro-rata basis or remit such moneys to the fund; and shall, if in receipt of moneys from the fund pursuant to section 12 or 13 of this act, return to the fund the amount of any unspent moneys received.

     f.     (1) Each candidate who is certified no later than April 17, 2009 shall have included with his or her name on the primary election ballot, and the sample ballot mailed to registered voters in the district, the slogan “Clean Elections Candidate” in such size and type face as to be easily readable to the voter and the name of the political party of which the candidate is a member.

     (2) Each candidate who is certified and has been elected at a primary election or has filed petitions of nomination with the Secretary of State pursuant to chapter 13 of Title 19 of the Revised Statutes and has become certified no later than August 14, 2009 shall: (a) have included with his or her name on the general election ballot, and on the sample ballot mailed to each registered voter in the district, the slogan “Clean Elections Candidate” in such size and type face as to be easily readable to the voter and the name of the political party or political group of which the candidate is a member; and (b) be permitted to submit to the commission a statement of no more than 250 words for inclusion with the sample ballot mailed to registered voters in the district the candidate is seeking office prior to the election pursuant to R.S.19:14-21, et seq.

     g.  If a candidate intending to become certified tries but fails to become certified on or before May 15, 2009, the candidate may continue to seek certification for the general election until August 14, 2009, pursuant to the provisions of this act, or become a noncertified candidate.

 

     11.  a.  (1) If a certified candidate wishes to withdraw from the pilot project and become a noncertified candidate because the noncertified opponent of the candidate has spent substantially more than the certified candidate may be provided pursuant to sections 12 and 13 of this act; or if a certified candidate wishes to withdraw from the pilot project and no longer seek nomination or election to the office of member of the General Assembly, the candidate may do so after transmitting written notification to the commission.  The commission shall provide the candidate with a receipt of the notification within 24 hours of receiving the notification and shall, as soon as possible thereafter, make a public announcement noting the withdrawal, and as part of the announcement, inform available electronic news media and at least three newspapers that circulate within at least three counties in this State, including the district the candidate seeks to represent, that the candidate who has withdrawn is no longer a certified candidate.  Upon the receipt of the notification, the candidate shall: (a) immediately suspend all activity on the qualifying contribution and seed money accounts established and used by the candidate, if such activities are continuing; (b) within 24 hours thereafter, make and certify an accounting of the moneys remaining in the accounts, including any money received from the fund; and (c) within 24 hours thereafter, return to the commission for deposit into the fund all moneys remaining in the accounts.  As used in this paragraph “substantially more” means an expenditure by a noncertified candidate that exceeds by 100 percent or more of the maximum allowable amount of money provided to a certified candidate pursuant to sections 12 and 13 of this act.

     (2) If a certified candidate wishes to withdraw from being such and become a noncertified candidate for either the primary or general election, or both, although the opponent of that candidates is a certified candidate who is continuing in the pilot project and seeking either nomination or election, or both, to the office of member of the Legislature; or if a certified candidate leaves or is forced out of the pilot project due to his or her criminal misconduct, the candidate shall do so pursuant to the provisions of this paragraph.  The candidate shall transmit written notification to the commission and it shall provide the candidate with a receipt of the notification within 24 hours of receiving the notification.  The commission shall also, as soon as possible thereafter, make a public announcement noting the withdrawal, and as part of the announcement, inform available electronic news media and at least three newspapers that circulate within at least three counties in this State, including the district the candidate seeks to represent, that the candidate who has withdrawn is no longer a certified candidate.  Upon the receipt of the notification, the candidate shall: (a) immediately suspend all activity on the qualifying contribution and seed money accounts established and used by the candidate, if such activities are continuing; (b) within 24 hours thereafter, make and certify an accounting of the moneys remaining in the accounts, including any money received from the fund; (c) within 24 hours thereafter, return to the commission for deposit into the fund all moneys remaining in the accounts; and (d) return to the commission for deposit into the fund an amount equal to all moneys the candidate already spent from public funds he or she received pursuant to section 12 or section 13, or both, of this act by such time as shall be determined by the commission, based on the circumstances of the withdrawal.  In addition to these requirements, any certified candidate who wishes to withdraw and become a noncertified candidate for either the primary or general election or both, although the opponent of that candidate is a certified candidate who is continuing, shall not be permitted to do so until the request is reviewed and decided by a special committee identical to the one established by section 6 of this act.  The members of the committee shall be appointed within three days after the candidate informs the commission that the candidate seeks to withdraw and the commission so informs the respective appointing authorities.  Within three days after the appointment of its members, the committee shall notify the candidate and the commission of its decision whether or not to permit the candidate to withdraw from being a certified candidate.

     (3) In the event that a candidate who has become certified no later than April 17, 2009 for the primary election or August 14, 2009 for the general election wishes to withdraw from being certified and become a noncertified candidate for any reason, or wishes to withdraw from the pilot project and no longer seek nomination or election to any office, the commission shall make a public announcement noting the withdrawal, and as part of the announcement, inform available electronic news media and at least three newspapers that circulate within at least three counties in this State, including the district the candidate seeks to represent, that the candidate who has withdrawn is no longer a certified candidate and the designation “Clean Elections Candidate,” provided for by section 10 of this act, is no longer valid.

     b.    If a candidate intending to become certified chooses not to become certified and becomes instead a noncertified candidate at any time prior to the end of the qualifying period for either the primary or general election, the candidate shall rescind his or her declaration of intent by notifying the commission as soon as possible.  The commission shall acknowledge this decision as soon as possible, but in any event no later than three days after receipt of the request.  Once the candidate receives the acknowledgement, the candidate shall be permitted to raise and spend campaign contributions pursuant to the provisions of P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-1 et seq.).  The qualifying contributions in the account of such a candidate shall be remitted to the fund as soon as possible, but in no event no later than three days following receipt of the acknowledgement.  If a candidate intending to become certified fails to qualify because he or she did not receive sufficient qualifying contributions by the last date of the qualifying period for the general election, the candidate shall be permitted to retain and expend those qualifying contributions as well as any remaining seed money that been collected.

     c.     Each certified candidate who is defeated in a general election in 2009 shall, upon the filing of a final report relative to the election, return to the commission for deposit into the fund all unspent fund moneys.

 

     12.  a. (1) Upon collecting and depositing at least 400 qualifying contributions prior to May 15, 2009, and certification by the commission that such amount has been received by the candidate, a certified candidate who is one of a slate of candidates who are members of the same political party and has filed a petition of nomination by voters who are members of a political party shall be provided with $37,500 from the fund to seek nomination for election to the office of member of the General Assembly.  In the event that two such candidates are part of a slate of candidates that are not opposed by any other candidates who are members of the same political party seeking nomination for election to the office of member of the General Assembly from the same district, each candidate shall be provided with $18,750 from the fund.  Upon collecting and depositing at least 800 qualifying contributions prior to May 15, 2009, and certification by the commission that such amount has been received by the candidate, a certified candidate who has filed a petition of nomination by voters who are members of a political party shall be provided with an additional amount of $37,500 from the fund to seek nomination for election to the office of member of the General Assembly.  Money shall be provided from the fund in equal proportion to the number of qualifying contributions the candidate receives, up to a maximum of 800, calculated to the nearest dollar, up to an amount equal to the initial amount provided by the fund, up to a maximum of $75,000 per candidate.  In the event that a candidate who has received 800 qualifying contributions is part of a slate of candidates that are not opposed by any other candidates who are members of the same political party seeking nomination for election to the office of member of the General Assembly from the same district, each such candidate shall be provided with an additional $18,750 from the fund, up to a maximum of $37,500 per candidate.  These amounts shall be in addition to the money that may be provided to each candidate pursuant to section 13 of this act.

     (2) A candidate who has received money from the fund pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection and who has been nominated to seek election to the office of member of the General Assembly by voters who are members of the same political party shall, upon collecting and depositing at least 400 qualifying contributions prior to the end of the qualifying period, and certification by the commission that such amount has been received by the candidate, be provided with $37,500 from the fund to seek election to the office of member of the General Assembly.  Upon collecting and depositing at least 800 qualifying contributions prior to the end of the qualifying period, and certification by the commission that such amount has been received by the candidate, a certified candidate who has been nominated for election by members of a political party shall be provided with an additional amount of $37,500 from the fund to seek election to the office of member of the General Assembly.  Money shall be provided from the fund in equal proportion to the number of qualifying contributions the candidate receives, up to a maximum of 800, calculated to the nearest dollar, up to an amount equal to the initial amount provided by the fund, up to a maximum of $75,000 per candidate.  In the event such candidates are not opposed by any other candidate seeking election to the office of member of the General Assembly from the same district, each candidate shall be provided with an additional $18,750 from the fund, up to a maximum of $37,500 per candidate.  The money provided to a certified candidate who has been nominated at a primary election to seek election in the general election shall be provided from the fund no later than the third day following the issuance of a certificate of election for the primary election by the Secretary of State pursuant to R.S.19:23-57.  All of the amounts provided in this paragraph shall be in addition to the money that may be provided to each candidate pursuant to section 13 of this act.

     (3) Upon collecting and depositing at least 400 qualifying contributions after May 16, 2009 and prior to the end of the qualifying period, and certification by the commission that such amount has been received by the candidate, a certified candidate who is a member of a political party and is one of a slate of candidates who are members of the same political party seeking nomination and election to the office of member of the General Assembly shall be provided with $37,500 from the fund for those purposes.  Upon collecting and depositing at least 800 qualifying contributions prior to the end of the qualifying period, and certification by the commission that such amount has been received by the candidate, a certified candidate who is a member of a political party shall be provided with an additional amount of $37,500 from the fund to seek nomination and election to the office of member of the General Assembly.  Money shall be provided from the fund in equal proportion to the number of qualifying contributions the candidate receives, up to a maximum of 800, calculated to the nearest dollar, up to an amount equal to the initial amount provided by the fund, up to a maximum of $75,000 per candidate.  In the event such candidates are not opposed by any other candidate seeking election to the office of member of the General Assembly from the same district, each candidate shall be provided with a maximum of $37,500 from the fund.  These amounts shall be in addition to the money that may be provided to each candidate pursuant to section 13 of this act.

     b.  (1) Upon collecting and depositing at least 400 qualifying contributions prior to May 15, 2009, and certification by the commission that such amount has been received by the candidate, a certified candidate who is one of a slate of candidates who are members of a political group that is permitted to register its members by use of a voter registration form or that is named on a political party affiliation declaration form approved by the Secretary of State as of the enactment date of this act, shall be provided with $18,750 from the fund to seek election to the office of member of the General Assembly.  Upon collecting and depositing at least 800 qualifying contributions prior to May 15, 2009, and certification by the commission that such amount has been received by the candidate, a certified candidate who is one of a slate of candidates who are members of a political group that is permitted to register its members by use of a voter registration form or that is named on a political party affiliation declaration form approved by the Secretary of State as of the enactment date of this act shall be provided with an additional amount of $18,750 from the fund to seek election to the office of member of the General Assembly.  Money shall be provided from the fund in equal proportion to the number of qualifying contributions the candidate receives, up to a maximum of 800, calculated to the nearest dollar, up to an amount equal to the initial amount provided by the fund, up to a maximum of $37,500 per candidate.  These amounts shall be in addition to the money that may be provided to each candidate pursuant to section 13 of this act.

     (2) A candidate who has received money from the fund pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection and who is a member of a political group that is permitted to register its members by use of a voter registration form or that is named on a political party affiliation declaration form approved by the Secretary of State as of the enactment date of this act, and has filed petitions of nomination with the Secretary of State pursuant to chapter 13 of Title 19 of the Revised States shall, upon collecting and depositing at least 400 qualifying contributions prior to the end of the qualifying period, and certification by the commission that such amount has been received by the candidate, be provided with $37,500 from the fund to seek election to the office of member of the General Assembly.  Upon collecting and depositing at least 800 qualifying contributions prior to the end of the qualifying period, and certification by the commission that such amount has been received by the candidate, a certified candidate who is a member of a political group that is permitted to register its members by use of a voter registration form or that is named on a political party affiliation declaration form approved by the Secretary of State as of the enactment date of this act, and has filed petitions of nomination with the Secretary of State pursuant to chapter 13 of Title 19 of the Revised States shall be provided with an additional amount of $37,500 from the fund to seek election to the office of member of the General Assembly.  Money shall be provided from the fund in equal proportion to the number of qualifying contributions the candidate receives, up to a maximum of 800, calculated to the nearest dollar, up to an amount equal to the initial amount provided by the fund, up to a maximum of $75,000 per candidate.  In the event such candidates are not opposed by any other candidate seeking election to the office of member of the General Assembly from the same district, the candidates shall be provided with an additional $18,750 from the fund, up to a maximum of $37,500 per candidate.  These amounts shall be in addition to the money that may be provided to each candidate pursuant to section 13 of this act.

     (3)  Upon collecting and depositing at least 400 qualifying contributions after May 16, 2009 and prior to the end of the qualifying period, and certification by the commission that such amount has been received by the candidate, a certified candidate who is one of a slate of candidates who are members of a political group that is permitted to register its members by use of a voter registration form or that is named on a political party affiliation declaration form approved by the Secretary of State as of the enactment date of this act, and is seeking election to the office of member of the General Assembly, shall be provided with $37,500 from the fund for those purposes.  Upon collecting and depositing at least 800 qualifying contributions prior to the end of the qualifying period, and certification by the commission that such amount has been received by the candidate, a certified candidate who is one of a slate of candidates who are members of a political group that is permitted to register its members by use of a voter registration form or that is named on a political party affiliation declaration form approved by the Secretary of State as of the enactment date of this act shall be provided with an additional amount of $37,500 from the fund to seek election to the office of member of the General Assembly.  Money shall be provided from the fund in equal proportion to the number of qualifying contributions the candidate receives, up to a maximum of 800, calculated to the nearest dollar, up to an amount equal to the initial amount provided by the fund, up to a maximum of $75,000 per candidate.  In the event such candidates are not opposed by any other candidate seeking election to the office of member of the General Assembly from the same district, the candidate shall be provided with a maximum of $37,500 from the fund.  These amounts shall be in addition to the money that may be provided to each candidate pursuant to section 13 of this act.

     c.  (1) Upon collecting and depositing at least 400 qualifying contributions prior to May 15, 2009, and certification by the commission that such amount has been received by the candidate, a certified candidate who is not a member of a political group that is permitted to register its members by use of a voter registration form or that is not named on a political party affiliation declaration form approved by the Secretary of State as of the enactment date of this act, or that is not affiliated with any other political group, and has filed petitions of nomination with the Secretary of State pursuant to chapter 13 of Title 19 of the Revised States, shall be provided with $9,375 from the fund to seek election to the office of member of the General Assembly.  Upon collecting and depositing at least 800 qualifying contributions prior to May 15, 2009, and certification by the commission that such amount has been received by the candidate, a certified candidate who is not a member of a political group that is permitted to register its members by use of a voter registration form or that is not named on a political party affiliation declaration form approved by the Secretary of State as of the enactment date of this act, or that is not affiliated with any other political group, and has filed petitions of nomination with the Secretary of State pursuant to chapter 13 of Title 19 of the Revised States, shall be provided with an additional amount of $9,375 from the fund to seek election to the office of member of the General Assembly.  Money shall be provided from the fund in equal proportion to the number of qualifying contributions the candidate receives, up to a maximum of 800, calculated to the nearest dollar, up to an amount equal to the initial amount provided by the fund, up to a maximum of $18,750 per candidate.  These amounts shall be in addition to the money that may be provided to each candidate pursuant to section 13 of this act.

     (2) A candidate who has received money from the fund pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection and who is not a member of a political group that is permitted to register its members by use of a voter registration form or that is not named on a political party affiliation declaration form approved by the Secretary of State as of the enactment date of this act, and has filed petitions of nomination with the Secretary of State pursuant to chapter 13 of Title 19 of the Revised States shall, upon collecting and depositing at least 400 qualifying contributions prior to the end of the qualifying period, and certification by the commission that such amount has been received by the candidate, be provided with $18,750 from the fund to seek election to the office of member of the General Assembly.  Upon collecting and depositing at least 800 qualifying contributions prior to the end of the qualifying period, and certification by the commission that such amount has been received by the candidate, a certified candidate who is not a member of a political group that is permitted to register its members by use of a voter registration form or that is not named on a political party affiliation declaration form approved by the Secretary of State as of the enactment date of this act, or that is not affiliated with any other political group, and has filed petitions of nomination with the Secretary of State pursuant to chapter 13 of Title 19 of the Revised States shall be provided with an additional amount of $18,750 from the fund to seek election to the office of member of the General Assembly.  Money shall be provided from the fund in equal proportion to the number of qualifying contributions the candidate receives, up to a maximum of 800, calculated to the nearest dollar, up to an amount equal to the initial amount provided by the fund, up to a maximum of $37,500 per candidate.  In the event such a candidate is not opposed by any other candidate seeking election to the office of member of the General Assembly from the same district, the candidate shall be provided with an additional $9,375 from the fund, up to a maximum of $18,750 per candidate.  These amounts shall be in addition to the money that may be provided to each candidate pursuant to section 13 of this act.

     (3) Upon collecting and depositing at least 400 qualifying contributions after May 16, 2009 and prior to the end of the qualifying period, and certification by the commission that such amount has been received by the candidate, a certified candidate who is not a member of a political group that is permitted to register its members by use of a voter registration form or that is not named on a political party affiliation declaration form approved by the Secretary of State as of the enactment date of this act, or that is not affiliated with any other political group, and has filed petitions of nomination with the Secretary of State pursuant to chapter 13 of Title 19 of the Revised States, and is seeking election to the office of member of the General Assembly, shall be provided with $18,750 from the fund for those purposes.  Upon collecting and depositing at least 800 qualifying contributions prior to the end of the qualifying period, and certification by the commission that such amount has been received by the candidate, a certified candidate who is not a member of a political group that is permitted to register its members by use of a voter registration form or that is not named on a political party affiliation declaration form approved by the Secretary of State as of the enactment date of this act, or that is not affiliated with any other political group, and has filed petitions of nomination with the Secretary of State pursuant to chapter 13 of Title 19 of the Revised States, shall be provided with an additional amount of $18,750 from the fund to seek election to the office of member of the General Assembly.  Money shall be provided from the fund in equal proportion to the number of qualifying contributions the candidate receives, up to a maximum of 800, calculated to the nearest dollar, up to an amount equal to the initial amount provided by the fund, up to a maximum of $37,500 per candidate.  In the event a candidate is not opposed by any other candidate seeking election to the office of member of the General Assembly from the same district, the candidate shall be provided with a maximum of $18,750 from the fund.  These amounts shall be in addition to the money that may be provided to each candidate pursuant to section 13 of this act.

     d.    No later than the third day following the candidate’s certification, the commission shall determine the amount of qualifying contribution money in the candidate’s account and shall transmit to the candidate from the fund as soon as possible the amount of money provided for by this section, less the amount of qualifying contributions received by the candidate.

     e. Any certified candidate who has received qualifying contributions, seed money contributions, and money from the fund pursuant to this section, to seek nomination for election to the office of member of the General Assembly and has an unspent balance in his or her campaign accounts following the primary election, may continue to spend the balance of those funds in to see the office of member of the General Assembly in the general election.

 

     13.  a.  (1) If a campaign report of a noncertified candidate shows that the aggregate amount of contributions exceeds the maximum amount of money that may be provided in the primary or general election to an opposing certified candidate pursuant to subsection a. of section 12 of this act, the commission shall within 24 hours of the receipt of the report authorize the issuance from the fund to each opposing certified candidate in the same district as the noncertified candidate, which certified candidate has received funds pursuant to subsection a. of section 12 of this act, an additional amount of money equivalent to the excess amount, up to a maximum of $75,000 in the primary election and $75,000 in the general election.  The additional amount of money shall be known as rescue money and shall be issued as each increment of at least $1,000 is reported by the noncertified candidate.

     (2) If a campaign report of a noncertified candidate shows that the aggregate amount of contributions exceeds the maximum amount of money that may be provided in the general election to an opposing certified candidate pursuant to subsection b. of section 12 of this act, the commission shall within 24 hours of the receipt of the report authorize the issuance from the fund to each opposing certified candidate in the same district as the noncertified candidate, which certified candidate has received funds pursuant to subsection b. of section 12 of this act, an additional amount of money equivalent to the excess amount, up to a maximum $75,000 in the general election.  The additional amount of money shall be known as rescue money and shall be issued as each increment of at least $1,000 is reported by the noncertified candidate.

     (3) If a campaign report of a noncertified candidate shows that the aggregate amount of contributions exceeds the maximum amount of money that may be provided in the general election to an opposing certified candidate pursuant to subsection c. of section 12 of this act, the commission shall within 24 hours of the receipt of the report authorize the issuance from the fund to each opposing certified candidate in the same district as the noncertified candidate, which certified candidate has received funds pursuant to subsection c. of section 12 of this act, an additional amount of money equivalent to the excess amount, up to a maximum of $37,500 in the general election.  The additional amount of money shall be known as rescue money and shall be issued as each increment of at least $500 is reported by the noncertified candidate.

     b.    (1) If, based on a written and certified complaint that is filed by a certified candidate who has received funds pursuant to subsection a. of section 12 of this act, the commission determines that a noncertified candidate is benefiting from money spent independently in support of such a candidate or that the certified candidate is the subject of unfavorable campaign publicity or advertisements in the primary or general election, by a person or a political committee, continuing political committee, political party committee, candidate committee, joint candidates committee or legislative leadership committee not acting in concert with that opposing noncertified candidate, the commission shall within 24 hours of either determination authorize the issuance from the fund to the opposing certified candidate in the same legislative district who has received funds pursuant to subsection a. of section 12 of this act who is not benefiting from such an expenditure, an additional amount of money up to a maximum of $75,000 in the primary election and $75,000 in the general election.  The additional amount of money shall also be known as rescue money and shall be issued as each increment of at least $1,000 is reported.

     (2) If, based on a written and certified complaint that is filed by a certified candidate who has received funds pursuant to subsection b. of section 12 of this act, the commission determines that a noncertified candidate is benefiting from money spent independently in support of such a candidate or that the certified candidate is the subject of unfavorable campaign publicity or advertisements in the general election, by a person or a political committee, continuing political committee, political party committee, candidate committee, joint candidates committee or legislative leadership committee not acting in concert with that opposing noncertified candidate, the commission shall within 24 hours of either determination authorize the issuance from the fund to the opposing certified candidate in the same legislative district who has received funds pursuant to subsection b. of section 12 of this act who is not benefiting from such an expenditure, an additional amount of money up to a maximum of $75,000 in the general election.  The additional amount of money shall also be known as rescue money and shall be issued as each increment of at least $1,000 is reported.

     (3) If, based on a written and certified complaint that is filed by a certified candidate who has received funds pursuant to subsection c. of section 12 of this act, the commission determines that a noncertified candidate is benefiting from money spent independently in support of such a candidate or that the certified candidate is the subject of unfavorable campaign publicity or advertisements in the general election by a person or a political committee, continuing political committee, political party committee, candidate committee, joint candidates committee or legislative leadership committee not acting in concert with that opposing noncertified candidate, the commission shall within 24 hours of either determination authorize the issuance from the fund to the opposing certified candidate who has received funds pursuant to subsection c. of section 12 of this act who is not benefiting from such an expenditure, an additional amount of money up to a maximum of $37,500 in the general election.  The additional amount of money shall also be known as rescue money and shall be issued as each increment of at least $500 is reported.

     c.     Notwithstanding any law, rule or regulation to the contrary, for the purposes of subsections a. and b. of this section, communications on any subject by a corporation to its stockholders and their families, or by a labor organization, partnership, membership organization or other association to its members and their families, shall not be considered to be an independent expenditure in aid of, or in opposition to, the candidacy of a noncertified candidate or a certified candidate.

     d.    The amounts of money provided to a certified candidate pursuant to this section shall be in addition to the money from the fund provided to a certified candidate pursuant to section 12 of this act.

     e.     A certified candidate who is provided with any amount of rescue money in a primary election pursuant to this section shall not be permitted to spend any amount of rescue money remaining in the candidate’s account following the primary election in the general election, and instead shall return any unspent rescue money following the primary election to the fund.

     f.     For the purposes of this section, the publication of any bona fide news item or editorial shall not constitute independent support of a candidate or unfavorable campaign publicity.

 

     14.  For a candidate who is seeking election to the office of member of the General Assembly by direct nomination by petition, pursuant to chapter 13 of Title 19 of the Revised Statutes, to become a certified candidate, the candidate shall meet the requirements to become certified provided in section 10 of this act.  If the candidate meets those requirements and becomes certified, the candidate shall be eligible for the money from the fund provided by sections 12 and 13 of this act.

 

     15.  The commission shall undertake a program to inform the voters in each participating district and the general public about the provisions of this act.  The program shall include, but need not be limited to, the following elements.

     a.     The commission shall be the primary government source of information for the general public, certified candidates and candidates intending to become certified about the provisions of “The 2009 New Jersey Fair and Clean Elections Pilot Project Act.”  This information shall be both of a general and technical nature, and include such aspects of campaign finance law and regulations in this State as deemed appropriate by the commission.  To facilitate the dissemination of such information, the commission shall, at a minimum:

     (1) feature it in a prominent location on its website and allocate sufficient space thereon to explain the pilot project fully;

     (2) respond to questions received by telephone, via the Internet or any other means that are asked by the candidates and the general public about the pilot project; and

     (3) have information available to each registered voter in each participating district explaining the pilot project and notify the voter where additional information is available and how it may be accessed.

     b.    The commission shall prepare separate, self-contained voter's guides for the general election that are suitable for mailing to the general public in each district that certified candidates are seeking election to the office of member of the General Assembly.  The guide shall list the name of each candidate seeking election to the General Assembly and identify the candidates that are candidates intending to become certified, the candidates that are certified candidates, and the candidates that are noncertified candidates.  For each candidate that is certified no later than August 14, 2009, the guide shall include the statement by the candidate of no more than 250 words that is to be included with the sample ballot transmitted to registered voters pursuant to section 10 of this act.  One copy of the guide shall be mailed to each household with one or more registered voters in each participating district and posted on the website of the commission no later than the date provided for the mailing of absentee ballots for the general elections by section 11 of P.L.1953, c.211 (C.19:57-11).  The commission shall also encourage the clerk and elections officials in each county that contains a district in which a certified candidate is seeking election to the office of member of the Legislature to reproduce and distribute paper and electronic copies of the guide to as many publicly accessible, county-owned or operated facilities as possible.

     c.     (1) The commission shall notify the clerk of each county in which a certified candidate seeking nomination has been certified no later than April 17, 2009 that the name of the candidate on the primary election ballot, and the sample ballot mailed to registered voters in the district, shall be accompanied by the slogan “Clean Elections Candidate” in a such size and type face as to be easily readable to the voter and the name of the political party of which the candidate is a member.

     (2) The commission shall notify the clerk of each county in which a certified candidate seeking election has been certified no later than August 14, 2009 that: (a) the name of the candidate on the general election ballot, and on the sample ballot mailed to registered voters in the district, shall be accompanied by the slogan “Clean Elections Candidate” in a such size and type face as to be easily readable to the voter and the name of the political party or political group of which the candidate is a member; and (b) a statement by the candidate of no more than 250 words, if submitted thereby, shall be included with the sample ballot mailed to registered voters in the district in which the candidate is seeking office prior to the election pursuant to R.S.19:14-21, et seq.

     The statements shall be administered and distributed by the commission in the same manner as the commission administers and distributes the statements printed and mailed with the sample ballot for candidates seeking election to the office of Governor, pursuant to section 12 of P.L.1974, c.26 (C.19:44A-37).

     d.    The commission shall undertake any other actions it deems necessary to inform the voters in the participating districts about the provisions of this act.

 

     16.  In addition to the assistance it shall give to candidates pursuant to section 15 of this act, the commission shall assign one member of its staff to serve as the primary liaison to each of the districts selected to participate in this act.  The liaisons need not be located physically in the district, but shall be responsible for receiving and bringing to the attention of the commission any issue raised by a candidate that concerns the commission with respect to this act.  In addition, the liaisons shall:

     a.     be available to provide information to certified candidates, noncertified candidates and candidates intending to become certified about the provisions of this act and any regulations adopted by the commission that pertain to it;

     b.    receive and review any complaints from the candidates regarding the actions or activities of another candidate, especially where such actions are alleged to be in violation of this act, rendering a decision as to the legitimacy of such complaints within 48 hours after the receipt thereof; and

     c.     receive and review requests for rescue money, as provided by section 13 of this act, and if deemed appropriate, authorize the distribution of such moneys from the fund to the certified candidate as the certified candidate is entitled to pursuant to section 13 of this act.

 

     17.  Whenever any certified candidate makes, incurs, or authorizes an expenditure to finance a communication aiding or promoting the nomination or election, or both, of the candidate alone or in conjunction with another certified candidate who is a member of the same political party and seeking the office of member of the General Assembly from the same legislative district, or the defeat of such candidates' opponent or opponents, the communication shall include:

     (a)   in the case of radio, an audio statement in the candidate's own voice, or if in conjunction with another certified candidate in each candidate's own voice, that identifies the candidate, the office the candidate is seeking, and that the candidate has approved the communication; or

     (b)   in the case of television, the Internet or any other similar form of communication containing audio and visual images, a statement in the candidate's own voice, or if in conjunction with another certified candidate in each candidate's own voice, that identifies the candidate, the office the candidate is seeking, and that the candidate has approved the communication, that is either spoken by the candidate during an unobscured full-screen view of the candidate or through a voice-over by the candidate accompanied by a clearly identifiable photograph or similar image of the candidate that occupies at least eighty percent of the vertical screen height, and includes the candidate's statement at the end of the communication in clearly readable writing in letters equal to at least four percent of the vertical picture height and visible for at least four seconds, except that  an Internet communication consisting of printed material only, with or without photographs, shall include the written statement described above; or

     (c)   in the case of any other form of communication, the communication shall include the written statement described in paragraph (b) above.

     A certified candidate, alone or in conjunction with the any other certified candidate who is seeking nomination or election, or both, to the office of member of the General Assembly from the same legislative district, may include in any communication made pursuant to this section a statement that he or she is a certified candidate.

 

     18.  a. A candidate who has been denied certification by the commission, or a person who opposes a candidate who has been certified, may challenge a certification decision by the commission as follows.

     A candidate or an opponent may appeal to the commission within three days of  the decision to grant or deny a certification. The appeal shall be in writing and shall set forth the reasons for the appeal.

     Within five days after an appeal is filed, the commission shall hold a hearing thereon after notice is given of the hearing to the challenger.  The challenger has the burden of providing evidence to demonstrate that the decision of the commission to certify, or to deny certification of, the candidate was improper.  The commission shall rule on the appeal within three days after the completion of the hearing.

     A challenger may appeal to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court a decision on an appeal rendered by the commission pursuant to this section and the court shall hear the appeal and render a decision thereon in an expedited manner.

     b.    Any candidate whose certification by the commission is revoked as a result of an appeal to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court shall return to the commission for deposit into the fund any unspent moneys received to date from the fund.

     c.     If the commission or the court finds that an appeal was made frivolously or to cause delay or hardship, the commission or court may require the challenger to pay the expenses of the commission, the court and the challenged candidate, if any such expenses have been incurred.

 

     19.  The candidates shall select the sponsors, and arrange among themselves, for at least one interactive debate prior to the primary election and at least two interactive debates prior to the general election.  All certified candidates shall be required to participate in the debates.  For the primary election, the debate shall occur on or after May 20, 2009 and on or before May 29, 2009.  For the general election, the first such debate shall occur on or after October 1, 2009 and on or before October 15, 2009 and the second shall occur on or after October 16, 2009 and on or before October 30, 2009.  The sponsorship and arrangement of such debates shall be subject to review and certification by the commission, and these arrangements shall be revised thereby if the commission deems it appropriate to insure maximum fairness to the candidates and access to the public.  The candidates shall submit their plans for debates in writing to the commission, with the submission for the primary election no later than May 18, 2009 and the submission for the general election no later than September 24, 2009.  The commission shall respond in writing to the candidates no later than three days following each submission.  At each debate, each certified candidates shall be identified as such and the meaning of that certification shall be explained in a manner to be determined by the commission.  The candidates shall invite and permit noncertified candidates to participate in the debates.  Any certified candidate who refuses to participate in the debates shall be liable for the return of moneys received previously from the fund in the same manner as the commission is authorized to seek the return of funds from gubernatorial candidates who received public financing and fail or refuse to participate in interactive debates required pursuant to P.L.1989, c.4 (C.19:44A-46 et seq.).  The commission shall determine whether reasonable circumstances existed to prevent a debate from being scheduled and whether a certified candidate has a reasonable justification to refuse participate in the debates.

 

     20.  a.  (1) Any person, including any candidate, treasurer or other official associated with the campaign of a candidate intending to become certified or a certified candidate, with the responsibility for the preparation, certification, filing or retention of any reports, records, notices or other documents in paper or electronic form, who, knowingly and willfully, fails, neglects or omits to prepare, certify, file or retain any such report, record, notice or document at the time or during the time period, as the case may be, and in the manner prescribed by law, or who, knowingly and willfully, omits or incorrectly states or certifies any of the information required by law to be included in such report, record, notice or document, and any other person who in any way knowingly and willfully violates any of the provisions of this act, shall, in addition to any other penalty provided by law, be liable to a penalty of not more than $6,000 for the first offense and not more than $12,000 for the second and each subsequent offense.  Upon receiving evidence of a violation, the commission shall use the procedure provided in section 22 of P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-22) for investigating the violation and assessing a penalty, if deemed appropriate.

     (2)   The fine imposed for a violation of paragraph (1) of this subsection shall, upon payment to the commission, be deposited in the fund.

     b.    Any individual found to have knowingly and willfully given any amount of money to another person for the purpose of having that other person give such money, or a part thereof, to a candidate intending to become certified as a seed money contribution or qualifying contribution is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

     c.     (1) Any person, including any candidate, treasurer or other official associated with the campaign of a certified candidate or candidate intending to become certified, who knowingly and willfully makes a false statement or knowingly or willfully files a false report, record, notice or document in paper or electronic form is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

     (2)   If an individual is found to be in violation of paragraph (1) of this subsection, the candidate shall remit in an expedited manner to the commission for deposit into the fund all moneys distributed to the candidate since he or she became certified for the election cycle in which the offense occurred.

     d.    In addition to the penalties imposed by this section, any certified candidate or candidate intending to become certified who is investigated and found by the commission to have purposefully, knowingly and willfully violated this act shall be disqualified as a candidate for nomination or election to the public office sought or shall forfeit such office if elected.

     e.     All investigations undertaken by the commission pursuant to this section shall be carried out in full compliance with the existing requirements of due process of law, and shall be conducted and completed on an expedited basis.

     f.     Two hundred and fifty dollars shall be added to each fine and penalty imposed and collected through a court under authority of any law for any violation of the provisions of chapters 27 or 30 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, chapters 34 or 44A of Title 19 of the Revised Statutes, or chapter 13D of Title 52 of the Revised Statutes and shall be forwarded by the person to whom the same are paid to the commission.  The commission shall upon receipt deposit those moneys so forwarded into the fund for use to effectuate the public information requirements established by section 15 of this act.  The commission shall deposit any moneys over that amount received pursuant to this section into the fund.

 

     21.  a. The commission shall promulgate such rules and regulations as it deems necessary to implement the provisions of this act, except that, notwithstanding any provision of  the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), to the contrary, the commission may adopt, immediately upon so filing with the Office of Administrative Law, such rules and regulations as the commission deems necessary to implement the provisions of this act.  Those rules and regulations shall be effective for a period not to exceed 120 days following the day of the 2009 general election and may be amended, adopted or readopted by the commission pursuant to the requirements of P.L.1968. c.410.  These rules and regulations shall include, but not be limited to, procedures for obtaining seed money and qualifying contributions, obtaining certification as a certified candidate, the distribution of fund moneys to certified candidates, the return of unspent distributed fund monies from certified candidates, the electronic filing of campaign reports, and such other matters delegated to the commission or required of it by this act.

     b.    Within 120 days after the 2009 general elections, the commission shall issue a report to the President of the Senate, the Minority Leader of the Senate, the Speaker of the General Assembly and the Minority Leader of the General Assembly on the pilot project created by this act.  The report shall contain such recommendations as the commission may deem appropriate for the establishment of a future, permanent clean elections public financing system for the nomination and election of candidates for the offices of member of the Senate and General Assembly.

     c.     The Secretary of State shall provide to the commission, in an expedited basis and at no cost to the commission, the current voter registration information and any additional election or voter information the commission may require to comply with the provisions of this act.

 

     22. This act shall take effect immediately and shall expire on the 180th day following the date of the general election held in 2009.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     The bill establishes a temporary program for the public financing of candidates seeking nomination and election to the General Assembly from eight legislative districts in 2009.  This bill is modeled on P.L.2004, c.121, which created the “New Jersey Fair and Clean Elections Pilot Project” and P.L.2007, c.60, which created the “2007 New Jersey Fair and Clean Elections Pilot Project.”

     Specifically, the bill requires that eight legislative districts be chosen for the pilot project and provides a public financing system for those candidates for the 2009 primary and general elections.  It provides financing for all certified candidates at various rates depending on political party affiliation, or non-affiliation, and whether a candidate is running unopposed.

     The bill requires the Speaker of the General Assembly to select two districts to participate in the pilot project from among the following legislative districts: the 1st, 4th, 6th, 7th, 14th, 18th, 22nd, 36th, and 37th.  The Minority Leader of the General Assembly will also select two districts to participate from among the following legislative districts: the 2nd, 8th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 21st, 24th, 25th, and 39th.  These districts have been designated because they have been shown to be either competitive or highly competitive in general elections for member of the General Assembly in 2005 and 2007.  The Speaker and Minority Leader will also each select an individual, who is not holding party or elective public office at the time of selection, to form a district selection committee, and these individuals are to select a member of the public to serve as the third member and the committee’s chair.  This committee will select four additional districts from among those districts whose candidates apply to participate in the pilot project by February 13, 2009.

     Under the bill, a political party candidate would receive different amounts of money to seek nomination or election to the General Assembly, depending on how many qualifying contributions the candidate raises and whether he or she is opposed by another candidate.  If the candidate raises at least 400 qualifying contributions of $10 each before May 15, 2009, he or she would receive $37,500 to run in the primary election, and if the candidate raises a maximum of 800 such contributions before that same date, he or she would receive an additional $37,500, for a total of $75,000 for the primary.  In the general election, if a political party candidate was nominated at the primary and received at least 400 qualifying contributions before August 14, 2009, the candidate would receive an additional $37,500 to run in the general election, and if the candidate raises a maximum of 800 such contributions before that same date, he or she would receive an additional $37,500, for a total of $75,000 for the general election.  If a candidate raises between the minimum of 400 and the maximum of $800 qualifying contributions, the candidate will receive a proportional amount of funding.  In no event would the candidate receive more than $150,000 in public funding for both the primary and general elections, except as noted below.

     Third party candidates must raise at least 400 qualifying contributions of $10 each to qualify to receive public money.  A certified candidate who is a member of a political group that is permitted to register its members by use of a voter registration form or that is named on a political party declaration form approved by the Secretary of State as of the enactment date of this bill, and who raises at least 400 qualifying contributions, would receive the same amount of funding as a candidate who is a member of a political party to run in the general election, and if such a candidate raises a maximum of 800 such contributions, the candidate would receive the same maximum amount of public money as a candidate who is a member of a political party.  If  that candidate collects 400 contributions by May 15, 2009, he or she would receive an additional amount of $18,750, and double that amount if the candidate receives at least 800 contributions by that date.  A third party candidate who is not a member of such a political group or affiliated with any other political group and who raises at least 400 qualifying contributions of $10 each will receive half the amount of public money provided to other candidates who reach that threshold to run in the general election, and if that candidate raises a maximum of 800 qualifying contributions of $10 each, the candidate will receive half the maximum amount of public money provided to other candidates.  If a candidate raises between the minimum of 400 and the maximum of $800 qualifying contributions, the candidate will receive a proportional amount of funding.  If such a candidate collects 400 contributions by May 15, 2009, he or she would receive an additional amount of $9,375, and double that amount if the candidate receives at least 800 contributions by that date.  Unopposed candidates in a pilot project district, regardless of political party affiliation, would receive half of the amount of public money provided by this bill for the primary election and for the general election.

     The bill provides “rescue money” for certified candidates, pursuant to a determination by ELEC, who are running against candidates who have chosen not to accept public financing, in the instance that the opposing candidate has received contributions greater than the maximum amount that the certified candidate can receive in the primary election, the general election, or both elections.  The rescue money will be provided to the certified candidates in increments of at least $1,000, and will not exceed $75,000 for major party candidates and members of a political group that is permitted to register its members by use of a voter registration form or that is named on a political party declaration form approved by the Secretary of State as of the enactment date of this bill, and in $500 increments not to exceed $37,500 for other candidates.

     The bill also provides rescue money for certified candidates whose campaign is being negatively affected by independent expenditures, as determined by ELEC, in a primary election, a general election, or both elections.  The rescue money will be provided to the clean election candidates in increments of at least $1,000, and will not exceed $75,000 for major party candidates and members of a political group that is permitted to register its members by use of a voter registration form or that is named on a political party declaration form approved by the Secretary of State as of the enactment date of this bill, and in $500 increments not to exceed $37,500 for other candidates.

     The bill specifies that candidates initially may raise seed money in contributions of no greater than $500, up to a maximum of $10,000, however in-kind donations up to $200 do not count toward the maximum amount.  Certified candidates and candidates intending to become certified who are members of the same political party or certain political groups and are seeking nomination and election in the same district are required to form slates and may coordinate their campaigns to the full extent permitted by the bill and current law.  Other candidates are also permitted to coordinate their campaigns.  No candidate who has become certified is permitted to coordinate his or her campaign with a noncertified candidate.

     The requirements of the bill are to be effectuated and enforced by ELEC.  In addition to monitoring the pilot project, ELEC is required to undertake a public information program to inform the voters in each participating district and prepare a self-contained voter's guide that is to be mailed to registered voters in each district that certified candidates are seeking election to the office of member of the General Assembly.  ELEC is also responsible for providing a liaison to each participating district and issuing, within 120 days after the 2009 general election, a report with such recommendations as the commission may deem appropriate with respect to any future pilot project similar to the one created by this bill.

     Procedures to contest a race or determination by ELEC, as well as fines and penalties for the violating the provisions of the bill are also provided.