Assemblyman JOSEPH CRYAN
District 20 (Union)
Establishes penalties for willful and intentional violation of certain campaign reporting requirements.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act establishing penalties for the willful and intentional violation of certain campaign contributions and expenditures reporting requirements, and amending P.L.1973, c.83.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. Section 6 of P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-6) is amended as follows:
6. a. The commission shall appoint a full-time executive director, legal counsel and hearing officers, all of whom shall serve at the pleasure of the commission and shall not have tenure by reason of the provisions of chapter 16 of Title 38 of the Revised Statutes. The commission shall also appoint such other employees as are necessary to carry out the purposes of this act, which employees shall be in the classified service of the civil service and shall be appointed in accordance with and shall be subject to the provisions of Title 11, Civil Service.
b. It shall be the duty of the commission to enforce the provisions of this act, to conduct hearings with regard to possible violations and to impose penalties; and for the effectual carrying out of its enforcement responsibilities the commission shall have the authority to initiate a civil action in any court of competent jurisdiction for the purpose of enforcing compliance with the provisions of this act or enjoining violations thereof or recovering any penalty prescribed by this act. The commission shall promulgate such regulations and official forms and perform such duties as are necessary to implement the provisions of this act. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the commission is authorized and empowered to:
(1) Develop forms for the making of the required reports; the commission, on any form it shall prescribe for the reporting of contributions and expenditures by a candidate, a candidate committee, or joint candidates committee, shall require the display of the provisions of section 22 of P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-22) in substantially the following form:
I UNDERSTAND THAT ANY WILLFUL AND INTENTIONAL FAILURE, NEGLECT OR OMISSION TO COMPLY WITH SUBSECTION a. of SECTION 22 of P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-22) MAY, IN ADDITION TO ANY PENALTY PROVIDED BY LAW, SUBJECT ME TO A PENALTY OF NOT MORE THAN $12,000 FOR THE FIRST OFFENSE, AND NOT MORE THAN $24,000 FOR THE SECOND AND EACH SUBSEQUENT OFFENSE;
(2) Prepare and publish a manual for all candidates, political committees and continuing political committees, prescribing the requirements of the law, including uniform methods of bookkeeping and reporting and requirements as to the length of time that any person required to keep any records pursuant to the provisions of this act shall retain such records, or any class or category thereof, or any other documents, including canceled checks, deposit slips, invoices and other similar documents, necessary for the compilation of such records;
(3) Develop a filing, coding and cross-indexing system;
(4) Permit copying or photo-copying of any report required to be submitted pursuant to this act as requested by any person;
(5) Prepare and make available for public inspection summaries of all said reports grouped according to candidates, parties and issues, containing the total receipts and expenditures, and the date, name, address and amount contributed by each contributor;
(6) Prepare and publish, prior to May 1 of each year, an annual report to the Legislature;
(7) Ascertain whether candidates, committees, organizations or others have failed to file reports or have filed defective reports; extend, for good cause shown, the dates upon which reports are required to be filed; give notice to delinquents to correct or explain defects; and make available for public inspection a list of such delinquents;
(8) Ascertain the total expenditures for candidates and determine whether they have exceeded the limits set forth in this act; notify candidates, committees or others if they have exceeded or are about to exceed the limits imposed;
(9) Hold public hearings, investigate allegations of any violations of this act, and issue subpenas for the production of documents and the attendance of witnesses;
(10) Forward to the Attorney General or to the appropriate county prosecutor information concerning any violations of this act which may become the subject of criminal prosecution or which may warrant the institution of other legal proceedings by the Attorney General.
c. The commission shall take such steps as may be necessary or appropriate to furnish timely and adequate information, in appropriate printed summaries and in such other form as it may see fit, to every candidate or prospective candidate for public office who becomes or is likely to become subject to the provisions of this act, and to every treasurer and depository duly designated under the provisions of this act, informing them of their actual or prospective obligations and responsibilities under this act. Such steps shall include, but not be limited to, furnishing to every person on whose behalf petitions of nomination are filed for any public office a copy of such printed summary as aforesaid, which shall be furnished to such person by the commission through the public official charged with the responsibility of receiving and accepting such petitions of nomination, at the time when such petitions are filed. The commission shall also make available copies of such printed summary to any other person requesting the same. The commission shall also take such steps as it may deem necessary or effectual to disseminate among the general public such information as may serve to guide all persons who may become subject to the provisions of this act by reason of their participation in election campaigns or in the dissemination of political information, for the purpose of facilitating voluntary compliance with the provisions and purposes of this act. In the dissemination of such information, the commission shall to the greatest extent practicable enlist the cooperation of commercial purveyors, within and without the State, of materials and services commonly used for political campaign purposes.
d. If the nomination for or election to any public office or party position becomes void under the terms of subsection c. of section 21 of this act, the withholding or revocation of his certificate of election, the omission of his name from the ballot or the vacation of the office into which he has been inducted as a result of such void election, as the case may be, shall be subject to the provisions of chapter 3, articles 2 and 3, of this Title (R.S.19:3-7 et seq.).
e. The commission shall be assigned suitable quarters for the performance of its duties hereunder.
f. The commission through its legal counsel is authorized to render advisory opinions as to whether a given set of facts and circumstances would constitute a violation of any of the provisions of this act, or whether a given set of facts and circumstances would render any person subject to any of the reporting requirements of this act.
Unless an extension of time is consented to by any person requesting an advisory opinion, the commission shall render its advisory opinion within 10 days of receipt of the request therefor. Failure of the commission to reply to a request for an advisory opinion within the time so fixed or agreed to shall preclude it from instituting proceedings for imposition of a penalty upon any person for a violation of this act arising out of the particular facts and circumstances set forth in such request, except as such facts and circumstances may give rise to a violation when taken in conjunction with other facts and circumstances not set forth in such request.
g. The commission shall establish a training program for campaign treasurers and organizational treasurers and shall make the training program available through its Internet site within one year of the effective date of this act, P.L.2004, c.22.
(P.L.2004, c.22, s.1)
2. Section 22 of P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-22) is amended as follows:
22. a. (1) Except as provided in subsection e. or f., any person, including any candidate, treasurer, candidate committee or joint candidates committee, political committee, continuing political committee, political party committee or legislative leadership committee, charged with the responsibility under the terms of this act for the preparation, certification, filing or retention of any reports, records, notices or other documents, who 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 omits or incorrectly states or certifies any of the information required by law to be included in such report, record, notice or document, any person who proposes to undertake or undertakes a public solicitation, testimonial affair or other activity relating to contributions or expenditures in any way regulated by the provisions of this act who fails to comply with those regulatory provisions, and any other person who in any way 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.
(2) Any person who shall willfully and intentionally fail, neglect or omit 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 omits or incorrectly states or certifies any of the information required by law to be included in such report, record, notice or document, any person who proposes to undertake or undertakes a public solicitation, testimonial affair or other activity relating to contributions or expenditures in any way regulated by the provisions of this act who fails to comply with those regulatory provisions, and any other person who in any way 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 $12,000 for the first offense and not more than $24,000 for the second and each subsequent offense.
(3) No person shall willfully and intentionally agree with another person to make a contribution to a candidate, candidate committee, joint candidates committee, political committee, continuing political committee, political party committee, or legislative leadership committee with the intent, or upon the condition, understanding or belief, that the recipient candidate or committee shall make or have made a contribution to another such candidate or committee, but this paragraph shall not be construed to prohibit a county or municipal committee of a political party from making a contribution or contributions to any candidate, candidate committee, joint candidates committee, political committee, continuing political committee, political party committee, or legislative leadership committee. A finding of a violation of this paragraph shall be made only upon clear and convincing evidence. A person who violates the provisions of this paragraph shall be liable to a penalty equal to four times the amount of the contribution which that person agreed to make to the recipient candidate or committee.
b. Upon receiving evidence of any violation of this section, the Election Law Enforcement Commission shall have power to hold, or to cause to be held under the provisions of subsection d. of this section, hearings upon such violation and, upon finding any person to have committed such a violation, to assess such penalty, within the limits prescribed in subsection a. of this section, as it deems proper under the circumstances, which penalty shall be paid forthwith into the State Treasury for the general purposes of the State.
c. In assessing any penalty under this section, the Election Law Enforcement Commission may provide for the remission of all or any part of such penalty conditioned upon the prompt correction of any failure, neglect, error or omission constituting the violation for which said penalty was assessed.
d. The commission may designate a hearing officer to hear complaints of violations of this act. Such hearing officer shall take testimony, compile a record and make factual findings, and shall submit the same to the commission, which shall have power to assess penalties within the limits and under the conditions prescribed in subsections b. and c. of this section. The commission shall review the record and findings of the hearing officer, but it may also seek such additional testimony as it deems necessary. The commission's determination shall be by majority vote of the entire authorized membership thereof.
e. Any person who willfully and intentionally makes or accepts any contribution in violation of section 4 of P.L.1974, c.26 (C.19:44A-29) or section 18, 19 or 20 of P.L.1993, c.65 (C.19:44A-11.3, C.19:44A-11.4 or C.19:44A-11.5), shall be liable to a penalty of:
(1) Not more than $10,000 if the cumulative total amount of those contributions is less than or equal to $5,000.00;
(2) Not more than $150,000 if the cumulative total amount of those contributions was more than $5,000.00 but less than $75,000; and
(3) Not more than $200,000 if the cumulative total amount of those contributions is equal to or more than $75,000.00.
f. In addition to any penalty imposed pursuant to subsection e. of this section, a person holding any elective public office shall forfeit that public office if the Election Law Enforcement Commission determines that the cumulative total amount of the illegal contributions was more than $50,000.00 and that the violation had a significant impact on the outcome of the election.
g. Any penalty prescribed in this section shall be enforced in a summary proceeding under the "Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999," P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.).
(cf: P.L.2004, c.32, s.1)
3. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill establishes penalties for the willful and intentional failure of a person to comply with the reporting requirements set forth in “The New Jersey Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Reporting Act” (N.J.S.A.19:44A-1 et seq). Under current law, a person is subject to $6,000 for the first offense and not more than $12,000 for the second and each subsequent offense (N.J.S.A.19:44A-22). The bill will establish penalties for a willful and intentional violation of $12,000 for the first offense and not more than $24,000 for the second and each subsequent offense. The bill also amends N.J.S.A.19:44A-6 concerning the duties of the Election Law Enforcement Commission, to require that the commission provide a notice of these increased penalties on any form it must prescribe for campaign reporting under the Reporting Act.