ELEC rejects NJDSC’s request to avoid contribution limits on management account
In one advisory opinion released yesterday, the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) has denied a request by the New Jersey Democratic State Committee (NJDSC) to avoid campaign contribution limits on a “ apolitical management” held by the party.
NJDSC lawyer Raj Parikh, on behalf of the state party, submitted the advisory opinion request last month, arguing that money used solely for non-political purposes should not be subject to the same strict regulations. than direct political contributions.
“The NJDSC is now seeking to confirm that the [Campaign Contributions and Expenditure Reporting Act] authorizes the transfer of funds by authorized third-party individuals and entities to a separate account (the “Administrative Account”) established by NJDSC to be used solely for non-political purposes…and that such transfers are not “contributions” to the meaning of the law, and therefore not subject to the contribution caps under the law,” Parikh wrote.
Parikh noted separately that such “household accounts,” which fund basic needs like rent payments, internet service and legal fees, are permitted for federal campaigns.
But the League disagreed that such an account would be suitably apolitical and wrote in its advisory opinion that the NJDSC’s internal management account should be subject to the same contribution limits as its regular campaign account. .
“The Commission believes that allowing the NJDSC to receive unlimited funds from a single source/contributor undermines the purpose of contribution limits, even if such funds are transferred to a separate account used solely for non-political purposes,” wrote the Legal Director of ELEC. Demery Roberts. “The risk of undue influence on the party relates to the amount of money given, not how those particular funds are spent.”
However, the verdict may not be the end of the NJDSC’s attempts to circumvent the campaign contribution limit. In a statement today, the NJDSC found the League’s advisory opinion out of step with modern campaigns and said it was considering further action.
“It’s a shame [ELEC] does not recognize – as other states have – that the countryside has evolved,” they wrote. “The League’s advisory opinion flies in the face of this reality and, in effect, prevents committees like the NJDSC from managing its non-political, non-campaign operations like any other entity in our state. We are analyzing the League’s opinion and will assess our next steps.