The top 25 special-interest groups in 2017 spent more than $74 million trying to influence elections and government policy in New Jersey, according to a new analysis by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).
The analysis measures direct contributions and independent spending, which influence elections, as well as lobbying, which influences policy. A similar analysis was done in 2013. In both years, there were elections for the governor’s post and all 120 legislative seats.
Comparing 2017 with 2013, a mix of unions, 527 political committees, business groups, and ideological organizations spent almost $18.6 million (34 percent) more in 2017 than the top 25 in 2013. Fifteen groups listed in 2013 also appear on the 2017 list.
The biggest increase during the period came in independent spending, which rose $14.9 million, or 56 percent. Contributions were up $1.2 million (7 percent), while lobbying grew $2.4 million (23 percent).