The Curious Timing of an ELEC Motherlode

The New Jersey Statehouse and Capitol Building In Trenton

The state’s Election Law Enforcement Commission was in the news a few months ago for the wrong reasons – a belief that a so-called elections transparency act would make a watchdog agency impotent.

That eventually may turn out to be the case. This week, however, ELEC gave some evidence that it’s still trying.

It announced that it has filed 16 complaints against continuing political committees for allegedly violating campaign finance regulations.

All of the complaints are similar. The offenders are charged with not reporting campaign contributions or expenses within 48 hours. The purpose of the 48-hour notification period is to allow the public to track campaign activity occurring in the last few weeks of a campaign.

The rationale for not reporting such expenses and contributions is obvious – don’t let your opponents know what you are doing as a campaign winds down.

ELEC cited committees run by the following:

Blue PAC, District Council of Northern NJ Association of Bridge, Structural & Ornamental Ironworkers PAC Fund, IBEW Local Union 400 PAC Committee, IBEW Local Union 456 Cope Fund, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, International Longshoremen’s Association AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education, Iron Workers Local 399 PAC, Laborers Local 472 PAC, Local 102 IBEW PAC, Local 322 Committee for Political Education, Local Union 164 IBEW Cope Fund, NJ Organization for a Better State, NJ State Laborers PAC, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 9, Sheet Metal Workers Local 25 and Sheet Metal Workers Local 27 PAC.

What jumps off the page in reading the release from ELEC is that all the alleged violations occurred during the 2021 election cycle, which was a gubernatorial year.

That was – quite obviously – a little less than two years ago.

That’s noteworthy because under the recent changes, ELEC’s investigatory window was cut from 10 years to two.

Critics said at the time that many investigations take longer than two years.

In this recent case, ELEC was able to bring forth accusations of wrongdoing within the new, two-year period.

But it does make one wonder about what nefarious activities New Jersey political groups may have been up to in, say, 2020.

We will never find out.

ELEC a few weeks ago dismissed 107 complaints because of its shrinking statute of limitations.

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