Now that your ELEC Pay-to-Play Annual Disclosure (Form BE) is behind you (if it isn’t – don’t panic – you can still file), you have a little bit of breathing room when it comes to all things New Jersey campaign-finance and pay-to-play related. We know that our last two columns were packed with information and some of it could have been overwhelming. So, this column will focus on a pretty straightforward topic – non-partisan elections (yes – there is such a thing).
Whoever said that it is always election season is NJ was correct! With the exception of certain School Board elections on April 20, the next major date on the election calendar is the non-partisan elections being held in various municipalities on May 11th. If you wish to contribute in connection with a non-partisan election, keep the following in mind:
- Non-partisan/municipal elections occur once every four years. Because the contribution limit for a candidate is “per election,” an “election” for purposes of determining applicable contribution limits can span a four-year period. If a candidate was successful in the May 2017 election and registered with ELEC for the 2021 municipal election in June of 2017, any contribution you made since June of 2017 would count toward your 2021 municipal election limit (that is a long look-back period).
- The traditional campaign-finance limit to a candidate running in the May municipal election is $2,600 per election.
- If you currently hold or are interested in pursuing a non-fair-and-open process contract with the municipality in which the candidate is seeking election, at a minimum a reduced pay-to-play limit of $300 will apply.
- If a municipality has adopted its own local pay-to-play ordinance, the permissible limit may be less than $300 per election depending on the express terms of the local pay-to-play ordinance.
Compliance Tip: When contributing in connection with non-partisan municipal elections that occur once every four years, it is important to keep track of contributions during the entire four-year period prior to the election to assist compliance with applicable limits. keeping in mind that reduced pay-to-play limits (that could very well be more stringent than those applicable under state law) may apply.
Rebecca Moll Freed is Partner & Chair of Genova Burns, LLC’s Corporate Political Activity Law Practice Group.
This column is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be construed as legal advice. It is recommended that readers not rely on this column, but that professional advice be sought for individual matters.