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ELEC Exec. Director: Reforming Pay-To-Play Would Simplify It

4-3-14

The Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) is calling for a reform of the pay-to-play law. ELEC Executive Director Jeff Brindle told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that he applauds the efforts by groups that initiated the law but that it’s time to reevaluate it.

“I’d like to applaud the effort actually of the individuals and groups that initiated this whole process of pay-to-play back in 2006, but I think with any law or any public policy basically it’s important to evaluate and to see how the laws are working,” said Brindle.

Brindle said that during the last election in 2012, about $40 million was spent by independent groups. Normally that money goes directly to candidates and political parties, but according to Brindle the money is now being redirected to independent PACs and it doesn’t allow for transparency, which is in the public’s best interest.

Brindle said that ELEC is advocating to reform the pay-to-play law to simplify and strengthen it. Currently the law allows for local governments to use to a loophole that allows them to be exempt from the law. If the law gets reformed, it would apply across the board.

If the pay-to-play legislation is changed to one state law that would apply to all state and local governments, Brindle said that it would also apply to state and local contracts, getting rid of the loophole at the local level and increase disclosure to include all contracts over $17,500. The contribution limit for contractors would increase by $1,000 from $300, which is still less than the $2,600 limit that applies for individuals.

“We would like to see more of the money going into the political parties and to the candidates rather than going to these independent groups and party affiliated PACs and so forth,” Brindle said.

The changes would make the pay-to-play law more understandable, according to Brindle.

“Definitely more accountable and more understandable,” said Brindle. “If you can’t understand the law, it’s difficult to obey it and it’s difficult to enforce it.”