TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Ellen Karcher which would prohibit any State or local public agencies from making campaign contributions using public dollars was unanimously approved by the Senate State Government Committee today.
“We need to ensure that public dollars go towards public interests, not private campaign accounts,” said Senator Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer, a leading ethics advocate in the State Senate. “The idea that government agencies feel they need to influence lawmakers with campaign donations to receive favorable treatment is ridiculous. The public budgets of governmental organizations are not intended to subsidize the political process.”
Senator Karcher’s bill, S-222, would prohibit any State or local public agencies from contributing to a candidate for elective public office or to any candidate committee, joint candidates committee, or any political party committee. The bill also prohibits a candidate or committee from accepting any such contribution. The bill defines “public agencies” broadly, to include every State or local governmental entity, including institutions for higher education. The bill also stipulates that anyone who willfully violates the bill’s provisions would be liable for a fine of up to $200,000, depending on the size of the contribution, and any violator who holds an elective public office may be required to forfeit that office.
“New Jersey’s culture of corruption is too vast, and the people of our State are crying out for reform,” said Senator Karcher, who also signed on as a co-sponsor of a bill package sponsored by Senate President Richard Codey which was also approved today, and would make sweeping reforms to the system. “We need to hold elected representatives and government officials to a much higher standard, and begin the process to restore people’s faith in their government. Ethics reform is an ongoing process, and I look forward to continuing the fight for a more ethical New Jersey.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.