POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Will Murphy’s CV deal a death blow to NJ’s dark-money bill?

By: Colleen O’Dea | NJ Spotlight

Gov. Phil Murphy’s conditional veto on Monday of a bill shining light on dark-money groups essentially seeks to rewrite the measure — cutting some provisions while adding another that tosses the bill into the middle of his fight with South Jersey Democrats. In doing so, Murphy appears to have killed the bill.

The governor’s veto also appears to exempt a nonprofit group that has been supporting him and is headed by his former campaign manager from having to disclose who has given it money, based on its activities to date.

“It would be very difficult to move forward with this,” said Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-Middlesex), prime sponsor of S-1500 in the lower chamber. “He (Murphy) is basically rewriting this bill, something that had been worked on for a long time. There’s stuff in it that does not make sense. It’s hard to see how we pass it.”

Essentially, the measure would require politically active nonprofits or 501(c)(4) groups to disclose their high-dollar contributors — those giving at least $10,000 — when these groups spend at least $3,000 to influence an election, legislation, or regulations. New Jersey’s election watchdog has been calling for some disclosure by dark-money groups, which now are not required to report who is funding them. As of 2016, 23 states had enacted laws covering electioneering expenditures, according to the Campaign Finance Institute. The Election Law Enforcement Commission reported that dark money groups spent $50 million to influence the gubernatorial and legislative races in New Jersey in 2017.

Murphy’s 20-page conditional veto (CV) seeks to narrow that disclosure only to election-related spending, as had been sought by some nonpartisan nonprofit groups that had worried the legislation would impact their activities and donations

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