ELEC: Major Party Committees Continue to Thrive Under New State Law

The Gold Dome.

Third-quarter reports submitted by the two state parties and four legislative leadership committees reveal healthy fundraising and cash reserves compared to most of the past decade.

Reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) by the so-called “Big Six” committees indicate their combined fund-raising through September 30 was $9.1 million.

While smaller than in 2021, the last state election with both houses running, it is 36 percent above the average for all election years since 2013.

Spending of $8.2 million is 38 percent higher than average while a cash reserve total of $3.6 million is 45 percent above average.

TABLE 1
CAMPAIGN FINANCE ACTIVITY BY “BIG SIX”
THROUGH 3RD QUARTER BY YEAR
YEAR RAISED SPENT CASH-ON-HAND STATE ELECTIONS
2013 $ 7,203,008 $5,917,331 $2,970,203 Governor and Both Houses
2014 $ 2,444,799 $1,887,661 $1,388,946
2015 $ 3,896,539 $3,579,018 $1,984,629 Assembly
2016 $ 2,195,300 $1,985,370 $1,188,706
2017 $ 5,835,574 $5,354,876 $2,317,953 Governor and Both Houses
2018 $ 3,846,796 $3,293,435 $1,298,934
2019 $ 3,767,926 $3,717,128 $1,476,354 Assembly
2020 $ 2,577,166 $2,173,600 $1,063,632
2021 $10,105,364 $8,878,871 $2,597,809 Governor and Both Houses
2022 $ 3,081,272 $2,480,441 $1,620,865
2023 $ 9,070,722 $8,206,918 $3,624,080 Senate and Assembly
Average[1]Six Election Years $ 6,646,522 $5,942,357 $2,495,171
Difference- % 36% 38% 45%

Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s Executive Director, said the six major party committees may be benefiting from a  new law (P.L. 2023, Chapter 30) enacted by Governor Phil Murphy in April. One of its major changes involved raising contribution limits for party committees, including the Big Six, for the first time since 2005.

Brindle said ELEC long believed it was important to strengthen the parties because they are highly accountable and strong parties will help offset the influence of special interest groups spending independently of parties and candidates.

The old law limited the two state parties and four legislative leadership committees from accepting more than $25,000 annually from a single contributor.

For all the “Big Six” committees, donors now can give $75,000 each year to organizational campaign accounts that pay for media costs, direct mail, staff salaries, get-out-the-vote and related costs. The same donors can give an additional $37,500 annually to new “housekeeping” accounts created by the two state parties-$112,500 in total. These new accounts are earmarked solely for administrative expenses, including mortgages, rent, taxes, compliance costs, legal bills and collective bargaining outlays. County parties also can create housekeeping accounts.

“Even compared to most election years during the last decade, the current receipts for the Big Six committees are up substantially,” Brindle said. “Party committees seem to be benefiting from the higher limits.”

Year-to-date totals for 2023 versus those of 2019 show the coffers of both parties are in better shape.

Fund-raising by Republican committees is up 105 percent. Democratic fund-raising is up 163 percent.

Cash-on-hand totals are also better.

TABLE 2
FUNDRAISING BY “BIG SIX” COMMITTEES
JANUARY 1 THROUGH SEPTEMBER 30, 2023

REPUBLICANS RAISED SPENT** CASH-ON-HAND NET
WORTH*
New Jersey Republican State Committee $1,288,050 $ 979,003 $ 330,729 $ 330,729
Senate Republican Majority $ 761,964 $ 470,948 $ 482,506 $ 459,116
Assembly Republican Victory $ 910,220 $ 542,631 $ 779,315 $ 779,315
Sub-Total- Republicans $2,960,233 $1,992,582 $1,592,549 $1,569,160
Difference Versus Third Quarter 2019 (Dollars) $1,516,791 $ 736,087 $ 928,518 $ 925,884
Difference Versus Third Quarter 2019 (Percent) 105% 59% 140% 144%

DEMOCRATS

New Jersey Democratic State Committee $2,035,377 $1,928,561 $ 327,705 $ 282,298
Senate Democratic Majority $1,834,749 $1,628,228 $1,149,026 $1,149,026
Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee $2,240,363 $2,657,547 $ 554,799 $ 524,360
Sub-Total- Democrats $6,110,488 $6,214,336 $2,031,530 $1,955,684
Difference Versus Third Quarter 2019 (Dollars) $3,784,005 $3,753,702 $1,123,194 $1,127,205
Difference Versus Third Quarter 2019 (Percent) 163% 153% 124% 136%
Total- Both Parties $9,070,722 $8,206,918 $3,624,080 $3,524,844
Difference Versus Third Quarter 2019 (Dollars) $5,300,796 $4,489,789 $2,051,712 $2,053,089
Difference Versus Third Quarter 2019 (Percent) 141% 121% 130% 139%
*Net worth is cash-on-hand adjusted for debts owed to or by the committee.
**Some spending totals may exceed fundraising totals because the committee dipped into reserves or incurred debt.

State parties and legislative leadership committees are required to report their financial activity to the Commission on a quarterly basis.

The reports are available on ELEC’s website www.elec.nj.gov. ELEC also can be accessed on Facebook
(www.facebook.com/NJElectionLaw) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/elecnj).

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