By Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron
Democrats in Trenton are suddenly pushing a major campaign finance overhaul.
Their bill would require candidates to disclose every donation, even those under the current $300,000 threshold and would require independent expenditure groups, like the one that financed a current anti-Christie commercial, to say where its money is coming from.
“We’re finally going to try to get a handle on who’s giving money to these issue advocacy organizations — the 527s, the 501c4s — that come into races, give themselves very benign sounding names like People for Good Government or something like that, actually have big funders behind them or many small funders, but the public never gets to find out who these people are,” Sen. Linda Greenstein said.
The director of the Election Law Enforcement Commission, Jeff Brindle, welcomes the overhaul.
“Right now under state law, there isn’t any requirement for those groups to disclose if they’re independent only committees. We’ve actually called for that for the last three years, we’ve been talking about getting disclosure of these groups so that is a real positive that would be in the bill,” Brindle said.
But Republicans say the Democrats are playing politics, trying to undermine Chris Christie’s big fund-raising advantage over Barbara Buono and making themselves look like reformers.
“Put the politics aside. If they’re sincere about bringing transparency come to the forefront — which the Republicans have been asking for for years — then we should look at it. If they’re sincere about having an overhaul to take away the layer of ambiguity in election financing, then we should really take a look at it,” Sen. Kevin O’Toole said. “But if it’s really aimed just because they want to try to get a leg up in the gubernatorial race, I think it’s a little bit hypocritical.”
O’Toole says the Democrats ignored Republican calls for campaign finance reform during the McGreevey-Codey-Corzine years.
Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak says, “The Democrats are posing as reformers when in all of our three years here, they’ve rejected all of our ethics proposals.”