Short of a Quorum, ELEC Unable to Meet for Five Months

NJTV News | August 18, 2016 | Politics
Agency continues to meet without commissioners, investigating allegations of campaign finance misconduct, but cannot issue sanctions or levy punishments

New Jersey’s Election Law Enforcement Commission has been unable to meet for five months because three of the four seats on the board are vacant. The agency continues to investigate allegations of campaign finance misconduct but cannot sanction wrongdoers.

ELEC is a watchdog monitor, keeping tabs on every political donation; it serves the same purpose whenever a candidate raises cash for a campaign. Essentially, it oversees campaign financing for every election in the state.

The fact that ELEC hasn’t met for nearly half a year isn’t just
“unprecedented,” said Seton Hall University Professor of Law Paula A. Franzes. She adds, “in a very real way, it’s a betrayal of the public trust. We count on the Election Law Enforcement Commission, all of us as citizens, because it deals with the heart of campaign finance.”

Under the law that created ELEC in 1972, the board must include two Democrats and two Republicans. The only member, Chairman Ronald DeFilippis, is a Republican — and cannot muster the two-person quorum required.

Executive Director Jeffrey Brindle said ELEC can resume its enforcement job quickly once it has a functioning board. But the presidential election is now less than three months away, and New Jersey parties, politicians, and lobbyists are already preparing for next year’s state elections.

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