Close to $1 million — that’s what the Democratic State Committee raised for Gov. Phil Murphy’s January 16 inaugural, and it spent it all too. That figure pushed fund-raising and spending by the state’s “Big Six” political committees to a decade-long high, according to disclosure reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC); the Republican State Committee, along with the two parties’ Senate and Assembly committees make up the rest of the “Big Six.” Their total take for the first three months of this year was $1.9 million.
But the first quarter’s take “can’t mask the fact that overall party fundraising and spending has declined sharply since the early 2000s,” Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s executive director, said. And there’s an urgency to reversing that slide, he said. In his view, “Reinvigorating parties is important because party committees are more accountable and transparent than many of the independent groups that now dominate state and national elections.” To that end, ELEC has made several recommendations — including a revamp of restrictions on “pay to play contributions” — that it hopes the governor and the Legislature will take up.