Independent special interest groups, many of which operate with little or no public disclosure, have spent an estimated $63 million on gubernatorial and legislative elections in New Jersey since 1977, according to a new report by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).
“In federal, state, and even local races, independent spending has emerged as a dominant force in political campaigns,’’ said Joseph Donohue, Deputy Executive Director and the study’s author. “It’s a new ballgame, both nationally and in New Jersey.”
More than $55 million -- 87 percent -- has been spent just in the past five years, according to “White Paper No. 24 -- Independents’ Day -- Seeking Disclosure in a New Era of Unlimited Special Interest Spending.
The report also indicates that the 2013 gubernatorial and legislative elections attracted a record $39 million in so-called outside spending -- campaign funds spent independently of parties or candidates by groups or individuals with special interest agendas.