Tag Archive: Super PACs

Christie & the Wild, Wild West of Mega Political Donations

In the last presidential race Super PACs started later in the process. Now they have begun operating before individuals even announce their presidential candidacy. The Washington Post explains, “That’s because once they announce their bids, federal rules require them to keep their distance.” The Republican leader of the pack appears to be Jeb Bush who is is headlining $100,000-a-head fundraisers with the hope of gaining an unassailable early lead. Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, says, “We’re seeing a bending and an abuse and an evasion of federal campaign contribution limits to an extent that we’ve never before seen.” However, a sharply divided Federal Election Commission has deadlocked over whether to even open up enforcement investigations since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010.

Gov. Christie who has yet to announce his candidacy has jumped into this Wild, Wild West world with both a Political Action Committee, which can accept up to $5,000 from donors, and a Super PAC, which can accept an unlimited amount. The Political Action Committee, LEADERSHIP MATTERS, was registered with the FEC in January by Christie confidante Bill Palatucci. According to Bloomberg News “It has lured 41 donors.” At no more than $5,000 a pop it is not much to brag about so far. The Super PAC AMERICA LEADS was registered in late February by Treasurer Timothy Koch and is headed by Phil Cox, former executive director of the Republican Governors Association where Christie served as Chair last year. Each group have set up staff with Cox serving on both. There is no report yet from the FEC on donations from either group.

Christie is fully engaged and making use of what some political consultants might call “best practices,” but others concerned about mega donations would call “worst practices.” So far he is way behind in the polls, and it appears he is not doing particularly well in raising funds. Recent news in New Jersey regarding court actions on the Pension Fund and affordable housing, combined with further revelations on close Christie associates involved with Bridgegate and the Exxon Mobile settlement are probably not helping him.  

They give in a shadow afraid to be known

Who are these people and organizations? What are their names? How much do they contribute? Assembly Bill 3863 would require disclosure of contributions received and expenditures made by committees or organizations not affiliated or coordinated with any candidate.

The bill passed the Assembly State Government Committee with the three Democrats, Linda Stender, John McKeon, and Herb Conaway in support. The two Republicans, Donna Simon and Chris Brown, abstained and issued a Minority Report. It pays lip service to transparency but serves as a preamble for likely opposition from other Republicans and from the governor who expects significant contributions to go to “independent” groups which support him.

Following the Citizens United court ruling at least 27 states have strengthened their campaign finance laws. It is important that New Jersey do so as well. The Assembly and Senate Democrats should be willing to make some accommodations to avert a veto or gain enough Republican support to override a veto. We need more sunshine and less shadow.  

Ending Campaign Finance Secrecy: Our Last Best Chance During the Gubernatorial Campaign

Following Citizens United at least 27 states have made changes to their election laws regarding expenditures, disclosure or both. NJ has not. Do you remember Reform Jersey Now and the Committee for Our Children’s future which operated under a veil of secrecy to support Governor Christie? Because of Citizens United and the rise of super PACS we can not prevent the onslaught of big money into the gubernatorial campaign. We can, however, enforce more disclosure.

When a person at an event last month complained about campaign finance laws, Governor Christie responded, “It’s all permitted under the laws … If you don’t like it, then change the laws.”

That is exactly what Assemblyman Reed Gusciora is proposing. Tomorrow an Assembly Committee will take up his bill A3863. It requires disclosure of the contributions received and the expenditures made by committees or organizations that are not affiliated or coordinated with a candidate, the candidates committee or joint candidates committee. It also requires similar disclosure for a committee organized to support or oppose a public question.

This bill will poke a light into the dark caverns where individuals, corporations, and interest groups can pour in sums of money that they are not allowed to contribute directly to campaigns. And by all reports the caverns will be overflowing with funds.  

Franklin Twp. passes first anti-Citizens United Resolution in NJ

promoted by Rosi

This past Tuesday, April 10th the Franklin Township Council in Somerset County, NJ became the first municipality in the State of New Jersey to pass an official Resolution supporting a Call for a Constitutional Amendment Overturning the “Citizens United Decision.”  Inspired by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) call for a national movement to pass a Constitutional amendment overturning the Citizens United decision and ending corporate personhood I decided to take action myself and contact the nine members of my local Town Council (including the Mayor) asking them to pass a Resolution of this kind.  

Several weeks after I requested that they vote and pass this Resolution they finally did so successfully at Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting with the 8 Democratic members of the Town Council voting in favor of the Resolution and our Republican Mayor (Brian Levine) being the lone no vote.  I’m proud of my town for passing this Resolution and hopefully more towns and cities in NJ pass similar resolutions.  It would also be ideal for the New Jersey Legislature to pass an official promoted by Rosi

Resolution calling for the overturning of the Citizens United decision which would send a strong message that the people of New Jersey do not support unlimited, anonymous money in our political system from corporations and the super-wealthy.  

To learn more about the national efforts under way by Senator Sanders visit his website:here.  

Also, visit here.

Want to see the resolution? It’s below the fold.