Bill Would Set Framework for Campaign Finance and Disclosure Rules, Establish Debate Between Publicly-Financed Candidates
TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Nicholas P. Scutari which would establish campaign finance and disclosure standards and debate rules for New Jersey’s new Lieutenant Governor position was approved by the Assembly today by a vote of 66-12, with one abstention, receiving final legislative approval.
“This November, voters in New Jersey will go to the polls for the first time to vote for a leadership team, not just a Governor,” said Senator Scutari, D-Union, Middlesex and Somerset. “While past acting Governors have done an exemplary job to serve the people of New Jersey, the new Lieutenant Governor position will ensure consistency and predictability in the path of succession, and whoever’s elected will hopefully play a major role in shaping the direction of the State. We need to ensure that the candidates running under the Governor, this November and into the future, are subject to the same reporting, spending and contribution limits as other candidates for office in the Garden State.”
The bill, S-2829, would set the framework for the application of campaign finance and disclosure laws as they apply to candidates running for the position of Lieutenant Governor this November and moving forward. Under the bill, candidates running for Governor and Lieutenant Governor would be treated as one candidate for the purposes of campaign contribution and expenditure limits and public financing eligibility, ensuring that gubernatorial candidates cannot skirt existing spending and contribution limits through their running mates. The bill would also clarify that candidates running for Lieutenant Governor would be subject to the same financial disclosure requirements, issue advocacy disclosure requirements, and anti-pay-to-play laws that apply to gubernatorial candidates in New Jersey.
“When New Jersey established the position of Lieutenant Governor, we didn’t spell out the mechanics as to how the current disclosure and reporting laws would apply,” said Senator Scutari. “This bill puts the proper framework in place, ensuring that candidates for Lieutenant Governor must abide by the same rules for other candidates in the State. And it ensures that gubernatorial candidates cannot use their Lieutenant Governor candidates as an avenue for wheeling or for getting around existing spending and contribution limits.”
The bill would also require that any Lieutenant Governor candidate receiving public financing to participate in one debate during the course of the election. Senator Scutari noted that as part of a leadership team with the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor’s political philosophy and perspective on State policies should receive proper vetting by the electorate.
“With the inclusion of the Lieutenant Governor on the ticket, future Governors will not be elected in a vacuum,” said Senator Scutari. “The voting public has a right to know the political philosophies and policy views of the men and women who would be a heartbeat away from leading the State. Through a public debate, voters will have the opportunity to get answers to the questions that we all have a responsibility to ask our elected leaders in a democracy.”
The bill was also approved earlier today by the Senate by a vote of 39-0. It now heads to the Governor to be signed into law.