SENATE, No. 2616

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED MARCH 4, 2013

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  SHIRLEY K. TURNER

District 15 (Hunterdon and Mercer)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Requires disclosure of contributions received and expenditures made by committees or organizations not affiliated or coordinated with any candidate, or committee organized to support or oppose public questions.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act requiring disclosure by certain political committees and organizations, amending P.L.1973, c.83 and P.L.1995, c.391, and supplementing P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-1 et seq.).

 

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

 

     1.    Section 3 of P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-3) is amended to read as follows:

     3.    As used in this act, unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context:

     a.     (Deleted by amendment, P.L.1993, c.65.)

     b.    (Deleted by amendment, P.L.1993, c.65.)

     c.     The term "candidate" means: (1) an individual seeking election to a public office of the State or of a county, municipality or school district at an election; except that the term shall not include an individual seeking party office; (2) an individual who shall have been elected or failed of election to an office, other than a party office, for which he sought election and who receives contributions and makes expenditures for any of the purposes authorized by section 17 of P.L.1993, c.65 (C.19:44A-11.2) during the period of his service in that office; and (3) an individual who has received funds or other benefits or has made payments solely for the purpose of determining whether the individual should become a candidate as defined in paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection.

     d.    The terms "contributions" and "expenditures" include all loans and transfers of money or other thing of value to or by any candidate, candidate committee, joint candidates committee, political committee, continuing political committee, political party committee or legislative leadership committee and all pledges or other commitments or assumptions of liability to make any such transfer; and for purposes of reports required under the provisions of this act shall be deemed to have been made upon the date when such commitment is made or liability assumed.

     e.     The term "election" means any election described in section 4 of this act.

     f.     The term "paid personal services" means personal, clerical, administrative or professional services of every kind and nature including, without limitation, public relations, research, legal, canvassing, telephone, speech writing or other such services, performed other than on a voluntary basis, the salary, cost or consideration for which is paid, borne or provided by someone other than the committee, candidate or organization for whom such services are rendered.  In determining the value, for the purpose of reports required under this act, of contributions made in the form of paid personal services, the person contributing such services shall furnish to the treasurer through whom such contribution is made a statement setting forth the actual amount of compensation paid by said contributor to the individuals actually performing said services for the performance thereof.  But if any individual or individuals actually performing such services also performed for the contributor other services during the same period, and the manner of payment was such that payment for the services contributed cannot readily be segregated from contemporary payment for the other services, the contributor shall in his statement to the treasurer so state and shall either (1) set forth his best estimate of the dollar amount of payment to each such individual which is attributable to the contribution of his paid personal services, and shall certify the substantial accuracy of the same, or (2) if unable to determine such amount with sufficient accuracy, set forth the total compensation paid by him to each such individual for the period of time during which the services contributed by him were performed.  If any candidate is a holder of public office to whom there is attached or assigned, by virtue of said office, any aide or aides whose services are of a personal or confidential nature in assisting him to carry out the duties of said office, and whose salary or other compensation is paid in whole or part out of public funds, the services of such aide or aides which are paid for out of public funds shall be for public purposes only; but they may contribute their personal services, on a voluntary basis, to such candidate for election campaign purposes.

     g.     (Deleted by amendment, P.L.1983, c.579.)

     h.     The term "political information" means any statement including, but not limited to, press releases, pamphlets, newsletters, advertisements, flyers, form letters, or radio or television programs or advertisements which reflects the opinion of the members of the organization on any candidate or candidates for public office, on any public question, or which contains facts on any such candidate, or public question whether or not such facts are within the personal knowledge of members of the organization.

     i.      The term "political committee" means any two or more persons acting jointly, or any corporation, partnership, or any other incorporated or unincorporated association which is organized to, or does, aid or promote the nomination, election or defeat of any candidate or candidates for public office, or which is organized to, or does, aid or promote the passage or defeat of a public question in any election, if the persons, corporation, partnership or incorporated or unincorporated association raises or expends $1,000.00 or more to so aid or promote the nomination, election or defeat of a candidate or candidates or the passage or defeat of a public question; provided that for the purposes of this act, the term "political committee" shall not include a "continuing political committee," as defined by subsection n. of this section, a "political party committee," as defined by subsection p. of this section, a "candidate committee," as defined by subsection q. of this section, a "joint candidates committee," as defined by subsection r. of this section or a "legislative leadership committee," as defined by subsection s. of this section.

     j.     The term "public solicitation" means any activity by or on behalf of any candidate, political committee, continuing political committee, candidate committee, joint candidates committee, legislative leadership committee or political party committee whereby either (1) members of the general public are personally solicited for cash contributions not exceeding $20.00 from each person so solicited and contributed on the spot by the person so solicited to a person soliciting or through a receptacle provided for the purpose of depositing contributions, or (2) members of the general public are personally solicited for the purchase of items having some tangible value as merchandise, at a price not exceeding $20.00 per item, which price is paid on the spot in cash by the person so solicited to the person so soliciting, when the net proceeds of such solicitation are to be used by or on behalf of such candidate, political committee, continuing political committee, candidate committee, joint candidates committee, legislative leadership committee or political party committee.

     k.    The term "testimonial affair" means an affair of any kind or nature including, without limitation, cocktail parties, breakfasts, luncheons, dinners, dances, picnics or similar affairs directly or indirectly intended to raise campaign funds in behalf of a person who holds, or who is or was a candidate for nomination or election to a public office in this State, or directly or indirectly intended to raise funds in behalf of any political party committee or in behalf of a political committee, continuing political committee, candidate committee, joint candidates committee or legislative leadership committee.

     l.      The term "other thing of value" means any item of real or personal property, tangible or intangible, but shall not be deemed to include personal services other than paid personal services.

     m.    The term "qualified candidate" means:

     (1)   Joint candidates for election to the offices of Governor and Lieutenant Governor whose names appear on the general election ballot; who have deposited and expended $150,000.00 pursuant to section 7 of P.L.1974, c.26 (C.19:44A-32); and who, not later than September 1 preceding a general election in which the offices of Governor and Lieutenant Governor are to be filled, (a) notify the Election Law Enforcement Commission in writing that the candidates intend that application will be made on the candidates' behalf for monies for general election campaign expenses under subsection b. of section 8 of P.L.1974, c.26 (C.19:44A-33), and (b) sign a statement of agreement, in a form to be prescribed by the commission, to participate in interactive gubernatorial election debates under the provisions of sections 9 through 11 of P.L.1989, c.4 (C.19:44A-45 through C.19:44A-47); or

     (2)   Joint candidates for election to the offices of Governor and Lieutenant Governor whose names do not appear on the general election ballot; who have deposited and expended $150,000.00 pursuant to section 7 of P.L.1974, c.26 (C.19:44A-32); and who, not later than September 1 preceding a general election in which the offices of Governor and Lieutenant Governor are to be filled, (a) notify the Election Law Enforcement Commission in writing that the candidates intend that application will be made on the candidates' behalf for monies for general election campaign expenses under subsection b. of section 8 of P.L.1974, c.26 (C.19:44A-33), and (b) sign a statement of agreement, in a form to be prescribed by the commission, to participate in interactive gubernatorial election debates under the provisions of sections 9 through 11 of P.L.1989, c.4 (C.19:44A-45 through C.19:44A-47); or

     (3)   Any candidate for nomination for election to the office of Governor whose name appears on the primary election ballot; who has deposited and expended $150,000.00 pursuant to section 7 of P.L.1974, c.26 (C.19:44A-32); and who, not later than the last day for filing petitions to nominate candidates to be voted upon in a primary election for a general election in which the office of Governor is to be filled, (a) notifies the Election Law Enforcement Commission in writing that the candidate intends that application will be made on the candidate's behalf for monies for primary election campaign expenses under subsection a. of section 8 of P.L.1974, c.26 (C.19:44A-33), and (b) signs a statement of agreement, in a form to be prescribed by the commission, to participate in two interactive gubernatorial primary debates under the provisions of sections 9 through 11 of P.L.1989, c.4 (C.19:44A-45 through C.19:44A-47); or

     (4)   Any candidate for nomination for election to the office of Governor whose name does not appear on the primary election ballot; who has deposited and expended $150,000.00 pursuant to section 7 of P.L.1974, c.26 (C.19:44A-32); and who, not later than the last day for filing petitions to nominate candidates to be voted upon in a primary election for a general election in which the office of Governor is to be filled, (a) notifies the Election Law Enforcement Commission in writing that the candidate intends that application will be made on the candidate's behalf for monies for primary election campaign expenses under subsection a. of section 8 of P.L.1974, c.26 (C.19:44A-33), and (b) signs a statement of agreement, in a form to be prescribed by the commission, to participate in two interactive gubernatorial primary debates under the provisions of sections 9 through 11 of P.L.1989, c.4 (C.19:44A-45 through C.19:44A-47).

     n.     The term "continuing political committee" means any group of two or more persons acting jointly, or any corporation, partnership, or any other incorporated or unincorporated association, including a political club, political action committee, civic association or other organization, which in any calendar year contributes or expects to contribute at least $2,500.00 to the aid or promotion of the candidacy of an individual, or of the candidacies of individuals, for elective public office, or the passage or defeat of a public question or public questions, and which may be expected to make contributions toward such aid or promotion or passage or defeat during a subsequent election, provided that the group, corporation, partnership, association or other organization has been determined to be a continuing political committee under subsection b. of section 8 of P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-8); provided that for the purposes of this act, the term "continuing political committee" shall not include a "political party committee," as defined by subsection p. of this section, or a "legislative leadership committee," as defined by subsection s. of this section.

     o.    The term "statement of agreement" means a written declaration, by a candidate for nomination for election to the office of Governor, or by joint candidates for election to the offices of Governor and Lieutenant Governor who intend that application will be made on behalf of the candidate for the office of Governor to receive monies for the primary election or on behalf of the candidates for the office of Governor and the office of Lieutenant Governor for general election campaign expenses under subsection a. or subsection b., respectively, of section 8 of P.L.1974, c.26 (C.19:44A-33), that the candidates undertake to abide by the terms of any rules established by any private organization sponsoring a gubernatorial primary or general election debate, as appropriate, to be held under the provisions of sections 9 through 11 of P.L.1989, c.4 (C.19:44A-45 through C.19:44A-47) and in which the candidates are to participate. The statement of agreement shall include an acknowledgment of notice to the candidates who sign it that failure on the candidates' part to participate in any of the gubernatorial debates may be cause for the termination of the payment of such monies on the candidates' behalf and for the imposition of liability for the return to the commission of such monies as may previously have been so paid.

     p.    The term "political party committee" means the State committee of a political party, as organized pursuant to R.S.19:5-4, any county committee of a political party, as organized pursuant to R.S.19:5-3, or any municipal committee of a political party, as organized pursuant to R.S.19:5-2.

     q.    The term "candidate committee" means a committee established pursuant to subsection a. of section 9 of P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-9) for the purpose of receiving contributions and making expenditures.

     r.     The term "joint candidates committee" means a committee established pursuant to subsection a. of section 9 of P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-9) by at least two candidates for the same elective public offices in the same election in a legislative district, county, municipality or school district, but not more candidates than the total number of the same elective public offices to be filled in that election, for the purpose of receiving contributions and making expenditures. For the purpose of this subsection: the offices of member of the Senate and members of the General Assembly shall be deemed to be the same elective public offices in a legislative district; the offices of member of the board of chosen freeholders and county executive shall be deemed to be the same elective public offices in a county; and the offices of mayor and member of the municipal governing body shall be deemed to be the same elective public offices in a municipality.

     s.     The term "legislative leadership committee" means a committee established, authorized to be established, or designated by the President of the Senate, the Minority Leader of the Senate, the Speaker of the General Assembly or the Minority Leader of the General Assembly pursuant to section 16 of P.L.1993, c.65 (C.19:44A-10.1) for the purpose of receiving contributions and making expenditures.

     t.     The term “independent expenditure” means an expenditure that is made to aid or promote the nomination, election, or defeat of a candidate for election to public office without the cooperation, knowledge, or prior consent of, or without coordination or consultation with, or without the request, suggestion or behest of, a candidate or any person or committee acting on behalf of a candidate, or an expenditure that is made to aid the passage or defeat of a public question without the cooperation, knowledge, or prior consent of, or without coordination or consultation with, or without the request, suggestion or behest of any person or committee supporting or opposing a public question.

     u.     The term “independent expenditure-only committee” means an organization organized under section 527 of the federal Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. s.527) or under paragraphs (4), (5) or (6) of subsection c. of section 501 of the federal Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. s.501), or any other organization organized under federal law that the commission determines is essentially similar to such organizations and does not fall within the definition of any other committee subject to the provisions of P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-1 et seq.).  The term shall not include any organization organized under paragraph (3) of subsection c. of section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. s.501).

(cf: P.L.2009, c.66, s.5)

 

     2.    (New section) a. Each independent expenditure-only committee that makes an independent expenditure of at least $1,200, or receives a contribution of $2,500 or more, in the aggregate during a calendar year shall register with the commission in accordance with section 21 of P.L.1993, c.65 (C.19:44A-8.1).

     b.    Each independent expenditure-only committee required to register with the commission pursuant to subsection a. of this section shall make a cumulative report, on a form prescribed by the commission, of all contributions in the form of moneys, loans, paid personal services, or other thing of value made to it, and of all independent expenditures made, incurred, or authorized by it during the period ending 48 hours preceding the date of the report and beginning on the date on which the first of those contributions was received or the first of those expenditures was made, whichever occurred first.  The cumulative report, except as hereinafter provided, shall contain the name and mailing address of each person or group that has contributed moneys, loans, paid personal services or other things of value since 48 hours preceding the date on which the previous such report was made and the amount contributed by each person or group.  If the contributor is an individual, the report shall indicate the occupation of the individual and the name and mailing address of the individual's employer.  In the case of any loan reported pursuant to this subsection, the report shall contain the name and mailing address of each person who has cosigned such loan since 48 hours preceding the date on which the previous such report was made.  If an individual has cosigned such a loan, the report shall indicate the occupation of the individual and the name and mailing address of the individual's employer.  The cumulative report shall also contain the name and address of each person, firm, or organization to whom independent expenditures have been paid since 48 hours preceding the date on which the previous such report was made and the amount and purpose of each such expenditure.  The cumulative report shall be filed with the commission on the dates designated in section 8 of P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-8).

     c.     An independent expenditure-only committee shall appoint a single treasurer not later than the date on which it registers.  Not later than the tenth day after the initial designation of the treasurer, the committee shall file the name and address of the treasurer with the commission.  The treasurer shall certify to the correctness of each report filed with the commission and shall maintain all records of contributions and independent expenditures for a period of not less than four years.

     d.    During the period between the appointment of the treasurer and the election for which contributions are accepted or independent expenditures made by the committee, and thereafter, a treasurer shall also file reports on the 29th day preceding and on the 11th day preceding the election, and thereafter on the 20th day following such election.  Concurrent with the report filed on the 20th day following an election, or at any time thereafter, the treasurer of any committee that has wound up its business and been dissolved shall so certify that fact to the commission.

     e.     (1) Any report filed pursuant to the provisions of this section shall include an itemized accounting of all receipts relative to any contribution received by the committee, which accounting shall include the name and mailing address of each contributor contributing $2,500 or more to such committee and the amount contributed by each.  In the case of any individual contributor, the occupation of the individual and the name and mailing address of the individual's employer shall also be provided.

     (2)   Any report filed pursuant to the provisions of this section shall include an itemized accounting of all expenditures relative to any independent expenditures made, incurred or authorized by the committee which is $1,200 or more.  The report shall set forth the name and mailing address of the person, firm or organization to whom or to which the expenditure was paid and the amount and purpose of the expenditure.

     f.     (1) Each treasurer of a independent expenditure-only committee shall file notice with the commission of a contribution of $2,500 or more received between the 13th day before the election and the date of the election.  The notice shall be filed in writing or by electronic means within 48 hours of the receipt of the contribution and shall set forth the amount and date of the contribution, and the name and mailing address of the contributor.  If the contributor is an individual, the report shall include the occupation of the individual, and the name and mailing address of the individual's employer.

     (2)   Each treasurer of a independent expenditure-only committee shall file notice with the commission of any independent expenditure made, incurred or authorized by the committee between the 13th day before the election and the date of the election.  The notice of an expenditure shall be filed in writing or by electronic means within 48 hours of the making, incurring or authorization of the expenditure and shall set forth the name and mailing address of the person, firm or organization to whom or to which the expenditure was paid and the amount and purpose of the expenditure.

     g.     For each reportable independent expenditure made by an independent expenditure-only committee, the treasurer thereof shall certify, in the manner required by the commission, that the expenditure was made without the cooperation, knowledge, or prior consent of, or without coordination or consultation with, or without the request, suggestion or behest of a candidate, a candidate’s committee, joint candidates committee, or both, or that the expenditure was made to support or oppose the passage of a public question without the cooperation, knowledge, or prior consent of, or without coordination or consultation with, or without the request, suggestion or behest of any person or committee supporting or opposing a public question.

     h.     No person serving as the chairman of a political party committee or a legislative leadership committee shall serve as the chairperson of an independent expenditure-only committee, or as its treasurer, or be involved in the management, control or formation of an independent expenditure-only committee.

     i.      When an independent expenditure is made for the purpose of communication after January 1 of the calendar year of a primary, general, nonpartisan municipal, local or regional school board or fire district election to nominate or elect candidates for election or re-election to public offices, and in the case of a run-off or a special election from the period beginning on the date on which the announcement with respect to such election is made and ending on the date of the run-off or special election, or with respect to a public question, the committee shall comply with section 2 of P.L.1995, c.391 (C.19:44A-22.3).

     j.     Each independent expenditure-only committee shall establish an account that is separate and segregated from any other bank account established by the committee and shall use that account whenever it makes independent expenditures or receives contributions to promote the election or defeat of any candidate for elective public office in New Jersey or the passage or defeat of any public question voted on by the voters of this State.

     k.    Any independent expenditure-only committee that fails to comply with the provisions of this section shall, in addition to any other penalty provided by law, be liable to the applicable penalty provided by subsection a. of section 22 of P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-22).

 

     3.    Section 2 of P.L.1995. c.391 (C.19:44A-22.3) is amended to read as follows:

     2.    a.  Whenever a candidate committee, joint candidates committee, political committee, continuing political committee, political party committee or legislative leadership committee, or any group other than such a committee, or any person makes, incurs or authorizes an expenditure for the purpose of financing a communication aiding or promoting the nomination, election or defeat of any candidate or providing political information on any candidate which is an expenditure that the committee, group or person is required to report to the Election Law Enforcement Commission pursuant to P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-1 et seq.), the communication shall clearly state the name and business or residence address of the committee, group or person, as that information appears on reports filed with the commission, and that the communication has been financed by that committee, group or person.

     b.    Whenever a candidate committee, joint candidates committee, political committee, continuing political committee, political party committee or legislative leadership committee, or any group other than such a committee, or any person makes, incurs or authorizes an expenditure for the purpose of financing a communication aiding the passage or defeat of any public question or providing political information on any public question which is an expenditure that the committee, group or person is required to report to the Election Law Enforcement Commission pursuant to P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-1 et seq.), the communication shall clearly state the name and business or residence address of the committee, group or person, as that information appears on reports filed with the commission, and that the communication has been financed by that committee, group or person.

     c.     A communication that is financed by any person, not acting in concert with a candidate or any person or committee acting on behalf of a candidate, shall contain a clear and conspicuous statement that the expenditure was not made with the cooperation or prior consent of, or in consultation with or at the request or suggestion of, any such candidate, person or committee.

     d.    Any communication from an independent expenditure-only committee that, when taken as a whole, expressly advocates the nomination, election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate or expressly advocates supporting or opposing a public question, or is the functional equivalent of express advocacy because it can be interpreted by a reasonable person only as advocating the nomination, election or defeat of a candidate or advocating support for or opposition to a public question, taking into account whether the communication involved mentions a candidacy, a political party, or a challenger to a candidate, or takes a position on a candidate’s character, qualifications, or fitness for office, or the merits of a public question, shall contain a clear and conspicuous statement that the expenditure was made without the cooperation, knowledge, or prior consent of, or without coordination or consultation with, or without the request, suggestion or behest of, a candidate or any person or committee acting on behalf of a candidate, or that the expenditure was made to support or oppose the passage of a public question without the cooperation, knowledge, or prior consent of, or without coordination or consultation with, or without the request, suggestion or behest of any person or committee supporting or opposing a public question.  For each reportable communication made by an independent expenditure-only committee, the treasurer thereof shall certify, in the manner required by the commission, that the communication was made without the cooperation, knowledge, or prior consent of, or without coordination or consultation with, or without the request, suggestion or behest of a candidate, a candidate’s committee, joint candidates committee, or both, or that the expenditure was made to support or oppose the passage of a public question without the cooperation, knowledge, or prior consent of, or without coordination or consultation with, or without the request, suggestion or behest of any person or committee supporting or opposing a public question.

     [d.] e. Any person who accepts compensation from a committee, group or individual described in subsection a. or b. of this section for the purpose of printing, broadcasting, or otherwise disseminating to the electorate a communication shall maintain a record of the transaction which shall include an exact copy of the communication and a statement of the number of copies made or the dates and times that the communication was broadcast or otherwise transmitted, and the name and address of the committee, group or individual paying for the communication.  The record shall be maintained on file at the principal office of the person accepting the communication for at least two years and shall be available for public inspection during normal business hours.

     [e.] f. As used in this section, "communication" means a press release, pamphlet, flyer, form letter, sign, billboard, paid advertisement printed in any newspaper or other publication or broadcast on radio or television, or telephone call featuring a recorded message, or any other form of advertising directed to the electorate.

     [f.] g. The provisions of this section shall not be construed to apply to any bona fide news item or editorial contained in any publication of bona fide general circulation.

     [g.] h. (1) A person who violates a provision of this section shall be subject to the civil penalties provided in section 22 of P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-22).

     (2)   A person who, with intent to injure anyone or to conceal wrongdoing, purposely falsifies, conceals or misrepresents information required by this section to be disclosed or maintained on file is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

     [h.] i. The Election Law Enforcement Commission shall promulgate rules and regulations pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.) to effectuate the purpose of this section.  The commission may, by regulation, exempt from the provisions of this section small, tangible items of de minimis value which are commonly used in campaigns to convey a political message, including, but not limited to, buttons, combs, and nail files.  The commission may also, by regulation, exempt from the provisions of this section advertising space purchased by a candidate committee, joint candidates committee, political committee, continuing political committee, political party committee, legislative leadership committee or other person, in a political program book distributed at a fund-raising event if the financial transaction is otherwise subject to disclosure.  An exemption granted by the commission with respect to any item shall not relieve the committee, group or individual making an expenditure therefor from any applicable campaign finance reporting requirements.

     In addition, the commission shall have the authority to provide, by regulation, that a communication need not include the address of the committee, group or person financing the communication in circumstances where the name of a committee, group or person would be sufficient to identify it from the commission's records.

(cf: P.L.2004, c.30, s.1)

 

     4.    This act shall take effect on the 90th day following the date of enactment.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     The purpose of this bill is to require disclosure of the contributions received and the expenditures made by committees or organizations that are not affiliated or coordinated with a candidate, the candidates committee or joint candidates committee, or both, or a committee organized to support or oppose a public question.

     Under the bill, such a committee or organization is referred to as an independent expenditure-only committee and defined as an organization organized under section 527 of the federal Internal Revenue Code or under paragraphs (4), (5) or (6) of subsection c. of section 501 of the federal Internal Revenue Code, or any other organization organized under federal law that the commission determines is essentially similar to such organizations and does not fall within the definition of any other organization subject to the provisions of current law.  Such a committee would not include any organization organized under paragraph (3) of subsection c. of section 501 of the federal Internal Revenue Code.  The term “independent expenditure” is defined as an expenditure that is made to support or oppose a candidate for nomination or election to public office without the cooperation, knowledge, or prior consent of, or without coordination or consultation with, or without the request, suggestion or behest of, a candidate or any person or committee acting on behalf of a candidate, or an expenditure that is made to support or oppose the passage of a public question without the cooperation, knowledge, or prior consent of, or without coordination or consultation with, or without the request, suggestion or behest of any person or committee supporting or opposing a public question.

     The bill requires an independent expenditure-only committee to:

     1)    register with the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) if it makes an independent expenditure of at least $1,200 in the aggregate or receives a contribution of $2,500 or more in the aggregate during a calendar year;

     2)    make a cumulative report on a quarterly basis, on a form prescribed by ELEC, of all contributions in the form of moneys, loans, paid personal services, or other thing of value made to it, and of all independent expenditures made, incurred, or authorized by it during the period ending 48 hours preceding the date of the report and beginning on the date on which the first of those contributions was received or the first of those expenditures was made, whichever occurred first;

     3)    appoint a single treasurer who is to be responsible for certifying the correctness of each report filed with ELEC and maintaining all records of contributions and independent expenditures for a period of not less than four years;

     4)    file a cumulative report on the: a) 29th day preceding the election for which contributions were received and independent expenditures were made by the committee; b) 11th day preceding the election; and c) 20th day following the election for which contributions were received and independent expenditures were made by the committee;

     5)    provide an itemized accounting of all receipts relative to any contribution of $2,500 or more received, or independent expenditure of at least $1,200 made by an independent expenditure-only committee, which includes the name and mailing address of each contributor contributing to such committee and the amount contributed by each;

     6)    file notice with ELEC within 48 hours of a contribution of $2,500 or more received between the 13th day before an election and the date of the election, and any independent expenditure made during that period;

     7)    provide that no person serving as the chairman of a political party committee or a legislative leadership committee may serve as the chairperson of an independent expenditure-only committee, or as its treasurer, or be involved in the management, control or formation of an independent expenditure-only committee;

     8)    require each independent expenditure-only committee to establish an account that is separate and segregated from any other bank account established by the committee and use that account whenever it makes independent expenditures or receives contributions to promote the election or defeat of any candidate for elective public office or the passage or defeat of any public question voted on by the voters of this State;

     9)    provide that if any communication is made by an independent expenditure-only committee after January 1 of the calendar year of a primary, general, nonpartisan municipal, local or regional school board or fire district election to nominate or elect candidates for election or re-election to those offices, and in the case of a run-off or special election during the period beginning on the date on which the announcement with respect to such election is made and ending on the date of the election, or with regard to a public question, the communication must be reported to ELEC pursuant to the current law regarding election communications; and

     10)  provide that any communication from an independent expenditure-only committee, when taken as a whole, expressly advocates the nomination, election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate or expressly advocates supporting or opposing a public question, or is the functional equivalent of express advocacy, must contain a clear statement that the expenditure was made without the cooperation, knowledge, or prior consent of, or without coordination or consultation with, or without the request, suggestion or behest of, a candidate or any person or committee acting on behalf of a candidate, or that the expenditure was made to support or oppose the passage of a public question without the cooperation, knowledge, or prior consent of, or without coordination or consultation with, or without the request, suggestion or behest of any person or committee supporting or opposing a public question.