The List: A Closer Look at New Jersey’s Top 10 Campaign Contributors

Colleen O'Dea | May 12, 2014 | Politics, The List
Garden State spends some significant cash on political contests, but to date, more money has left the state than has come in

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With less than a month until the Congressional primary elections, candidates in contested races are — to one degree or another — engaged in battle with opponents and raising money to run their campaigns. At most, one district — South Jersey’s 3rd District seat currently held by Republican Rep. Jon Runyan — is considered a tossup, but New Jersey’s federal candidates have not drawn the kind of money and attention of nationally targeted races. Still, the candidates for the state’s dozen House districts and the Senate seat Democrat Cory Booker won last October, had received roughly $19 million as of April 20. That’s more than all but 11 other states.

But so far, more money has left the state than came in. According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, New Jersey individuals and corporate political committees have given more than $26.6 million to federal candidates, political parties, and outside groups that get involved in influencing elections. CRP’s Open Secrets website has ranked the biggest contributors in the 2013-14 election cycle. When the donor is a corporation, most or all of the money came from individuals and the families associated with the business or from its political committee, rather than the corporation itself.

1. $521,107 – Equinox Partners

Equinox Partners, LP, a New York hedge fund manager, tops the list because of the political activism of its president, Sean Fieler, of Princeton. Fieler actually gave more than $600,000, CPR data shows, but his address was listed as New York in some cases so not all that money was counted as a contribution from New Jersey. He is one of three founders of the American Principles Fund, a conservative SuperPAC. Most of the Equinox money went to outside spending groups, with almost $500,000 from Fieler going to American Principles, according to the CPR data. American Principles reported spending $432,500 against three candidates through May 10, including $97,500 for ads against Booker in the week before last year’s special Senate election. It is currently working against Republican Monica Wehby, running in Oregon for a U.S. Senate seat.

Equinox gave $89,000 to Republicans, including $5,200 to Steve Lonegan, the conservative who lost to Booker last year and is now running in the GOP primary for a House seat in the 3rd District.

2. $398,920 – Johnson & Johnson and affiliates

Most of the contributions to candidates attributed to the medical and pharmaceuticals company headquartered in New Brunswick came from its PACs, according to the CPR, while four of 11 individual contributions were from New Jerseyans. J&J’s largest contribution, $51,750, was to the Democratic Governor’s Association. A little more than half of the money, though, went to Republicans. The company contributed money in nearly all New Jersey districts and the Senate race in the current two-year election cycle, with Rep. Frank Pallone, D-6th, getting the most — $10,000.

3. NorPAC – $312,903

NorPAC is a nonpartisan PAC based in Englewood Cliffs that backs pro-Israel candidates. Most of its money has come from individuals, and the candidate that got most of its support is Booker, who got almost $139,000, nearly all in individual contributions. NorPAC gave all its money to candidates, none to other political groups, and also gave slightly more to Republicans than to Democrats, although it only gave to Democrats in New Jersey. Pallone, Rep. Albio Sires (D-8th), and Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9th), also have gotten money. Ten of 17 people who gave $5,000 each to NorPAC were from Bergen County.

4. $309,400 – Prudential Financial and affiliates

More than two-thirds of the contributions to candidates attributed to the Newark-based insurance and financial services firm came from its PACs. Its largest beneficiary, according to the CPR, was Booker, who got $39,500. Eight other New Jersey candidates got money from Prudential or its employees. About 56 percent of its contributions went to Democrats.

5. $257,500 – Connell Co. and affiliates

A mining, equipment-leasing, and real estate company based in Berkeley Heights, Connell Co. donations this cycle so far have gone exclusively to Democrats. Connell gave $64,800 each to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. All contributions to candidates came from its principals and employees; Booker was the biggest beneficiary, getting $19,900. Pallone got $12,500, while retiring Reps. Rob Andrews(D-1st) and Rush Holt (D-12th) each got $5,000.

6. $250,200 – Sanofi and affiliates

Almost all of the money given to candidates came from the pharmaceuticals giant’s PACs, and 22 of 26 donors who gave $5,000 to the Sanofi 2014 PAC were from New Jersey. CPR data shows that Sanofi gave more money to the GOP, about 61 percent, and with the largest contributions $30,000 each to the Republican congressional and senatorial committees. Six New Jersey candidates got money, with the largest being $5,000 to Pallone.

7. $182,600 – International Longshoremens Association and affiliates

All of the union’s contributions to candidates came from its PACs, according to CPR. It supported Democrats over Republicans 9-to-1, and its largest contribution was $15,000 to the DCCC. Three New Jersey candidates got ILA money: $3,000 to Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-10th), $2,600 to Booker, and $2,500 to Rep. Frank LoBiondo, (R-2nd).

8. $180,250 – Chubb Corp and affiliates

The Warren-based insurer gave slightly more to Republicans than to Democrats. CPR data shows that nearly all the contributions attributed to Chubb were from its PAC. Chubb gave $10,000 to the NRCC. Seven New Jersey candidates received Chubb-related contributions, with Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7th), getting the largest — $6,250.

9. $152,244 – Tyco International and affiliates

Most of the contributions to candidates attributed to Tyco, a security systems company whose U.S. headquarters are in Princeton, were from its PAC, with most of the large contributions to that coming from individuals in Princeton. Tyco’s largest contribution, $50,000, was to the RGA. More than $8 of every $10 went to Republicans. In New Jersey, only Democrats have gotten money so far: $2,500 each to Pallone and Pascrell, and $2,000 to Holt.

10. $150,500 – BASF SE and affiliates

Nearly all of the money to candidates from the international chemical giant whose North American headquarters is in Florham Park came from its PAC. BASF was bipartisan in contributing to the parties’ national senatorial campaigns, at $15,000 each, but overall three-quarters of donations were to the GOP. In New Jersey, Rep. Rodney P. Frelinghuysen (R-11th), got $5,000, while Booker received $1,000.