ASSEMBLY, No. 5542

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

218th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JUNE 10, 2019

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  BETTYLOU DECROCE

District 26 (Essex, Morris and Passaic)

Assemblyman  CHRISTOPHER P. DEPHILLIPS

District 40 (Bergen, Essex, Morris and Passaic)

Assemblyman  ANDREW ZWICKER

District 16 (Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblymen Rooney, Bramnick, Dancer, Assemblywoman Handlin, Assemblymen DiMaio, DeAngelo and Thomson

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Prohibits campaign expenditures to entities whose principals cannot be readily identified.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning certain campaign expenditures and amending P.L.1973, c.83.

 

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

 

     1.    Section 20 of P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-20) is amended to read as follows:

     20.  No contribution of money or other thing of value, nor obligation therefor, shall be made, and no expenditure of money or other thing of value, nor obligation therefor, shall be made or incurred whether anonymously, in a fictitious name, or by one person or group in the name of another, to support or defeat a candidate in an election or to aid the passage or defeat of any public question or to provide political information on any candidate or public question or to seek to influence the content, introduction, passage or defeat of legislation. 

      No individual, either alone or jointly with one or more other individuals, and no corporation, partnership, membership organization or other incorporated or unincorporated association shall loan or advance to any individual, group of individuals, corporation, partnership, membership organization or other incorporated or unincorporated association any money or other thing of value expressly for the purpose of inducing the recipient thereof, or any other individual, group, corporation, partnership, organization or association, to make a contribution, either directly or indirectly, of money or other thing of value to a candidate or the candidate committee or joint candidates committee of a candidate. 

      No person shall contribute, or purport to contribute, to any candidate, candidate committee or joint candidates committee, political committee, continuing political committee, political party committee or legislative leadership committee funds or property which does not actually belong to him and is not in his full custody and control; which has been given or furnished to him by any other person or group for the purpose of making a contribution thereof, except in the case of group contributions by persons who are members of the contributing group; or which has been loaned or advanced expressly for the purpose of inducing the making of a contribution to a candidate, candidate committee or joint candidates committee. 

      No treasurer, candidate or member of a candidate committee, joint candidates committee, political committee, continuing political committee, political party committee or legislative leadership committee shall solicit or knowingly accept, agree to accept or concur in or abet the solicitation or acceptance of any contribution contrary to the provisions of this section. 

     No treasurer, candidate or member of a candidate committee, joint candidates committee, political committee, continuing political committee, political party committee or legislative leadership committee shall make any expenditure to an entity whose principals cannot be readily identified in the entity’s registration in this State, another state of the United States, or a federal government agency. 

(cf: P.L.1993, c.65, s.11)

 

     2.    Section 21 of P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-21) is amended to read as follows:

     21.  a.  Any person who purposely and with intent to conceal or misrepresent contributions given or received or expenditures made or incurred to aid or promote the nomination, election or defeat of any candidate for public office or party position, or to aid or promote the passage or defeat of a public question in any election, or to aid the dissemination of political information in connection with any election makes or accepts any contribution or makes or incurs any expenditure in violation of section 7, 11 or 20 of this act is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. 

     b.  Any person who purposely files or prepares or assists in the preparation for filing or purposely acquiesces in the preparation or filing of any report required under this act which the person knows is false, inaccurate or incomplete in any material particular; or who purposely fails or refuses to file any such report when required to do so pursuant to the provisions of this act; or who purposely supplies any information which he knows to be false, inaccurate or incomplete to any person preparing or assisting in the preparation of any such report, with the knowledge that such information is intended for the purposes of such report, is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. 

     c.  The nomination for or election to any office of any candidate who is guilty of any violation within the description of subsection a. or b. of this section shall be void, and the office shall be filled as required by law in the case of a vacancy; provided, however, that nothing herein contained shall be construed in derogation of the constitutional authority of either House of the Legislature to be the judge of the election and qualification of its own members. 

     d.  Any individual, partnership, membership organization or other association who or which, directly or through an agent, purposely makes a loan or advance of money or other thing of value in violation of section 11 or section 20 of P.L. 1973, c. 83 (C. 19:44A-11 or C. 19:44A-20) is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. 

     e.  Any individual, partnership, membership organization or other association who or which purposely makes a contribution as a result of having been induced to do so through the receipt, promise or offer of a loan or advance of money or other thing of value, the making of which loan or advance would constitute a violation of section 11 or section 20 of P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-11 or C.19:44A-20), is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. 

     f.  Any treasurer, candidate or member of a candidate committee, joint candidates committee, political committee, continuing political committee, political party committee or legislative leadership committee who makes any expenditure to an entity whose principals cannot be readily identified in the entity’s registration in this State, another state of the United States, or a federal government agency in violation of section 20 of P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-20) is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. 

(cf: P.L.1993, c.65, s.12) 

 

     3.  Section 22 of P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-22) is amended to read 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, or who makes any expenditure to an entity whose principals cannot be readily identified in the entity’s registration in this State, another state of the United States, or a federal government agency, 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)   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)

 

     4. This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

    

     Under current law, candidates, persons who make expenditures on behalf of candidates for election, and their respective committees are required to report campaign contributions and expenditures to the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC). Current law specifies allowable contributions and expenditures and, among other provisions, prohibit the filing of false reports.

     This bill amends the “The New Jersey Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Reporting Act” to further prohibit a treasurer, candidate or member of a candidate committee, joint candidates committee, political committee, continuing political committee, political party committee or legislative leadership committee from making any expenditure to an entity whose principals cannot be readily identified in the entity’s registration in this State, another state of the United States, or a federal government agency. The bill makes violations of this prohibition crimes of the fourth degree, and provides that violators will 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.