BEACH WELCOMES DEBATE ON CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM

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TRENTON — State Senator James Beach (D-Camden, Burlington) issued the following statement regarding Gov. Chris Christie’s call for changes in the way campaigns are financed. Speaking at a town hall on Tuesday, Christie said donors should be able to contribute unlimited amounts to campaigns as long as the donations are made public within 48 hours.

“Now that the Governor is serious about reforming the way campaigns are financed and increasing transparency, I welcome the debate,” said Beach. “The current system is too complex, includes too many loopholes and lacks the type of transparency the public deserves.”

Beach is a sponsor of a bill (S-938) that would allow donors to contribute more to political campaigns in New Jersey while imposing greater transparency. It would also standardize pay-to-play laws, replacing the patchwork of local laws that currently exists.

The reform bill is modeled after a number of recommendations by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC), and intended to improve campaign finance laws while providing greater disclosure of contributions and expenditures. First, the bill would eliminate an exemption that allows a candidate, political party, or legislative leadership committee to withhold information about donations of $300 or less. In its place, the bill would increase the amount donors can contribute to campaigns but require the prompt disclosure of all campaign contributions and expenditures to ELEC upon each instance of spending or receiving contributions.

In addition, the bill would expand reporting requirements to issue advocacy groups, specifically 501(c)(4)s, which are currently exempt from disclosing information about their donors, and 527s, which are only required to make public their donors through the federal government.

“We need to bring the financing of campaigns in New Jersey out of the shadows and establish simple, clear rules so that the process is transparent, the laws are understood and can be adequately enforced. Reforming the process will also give the public the ability to determine who is contributing to campaigns and whether public contracts are being awarded fairly. This will go a long way to ensure that elected officials at all levels are held accountable.”