NJ Activists Take on Dark Money, Legislative Secrets and Ballot Siberia

Nancy Solomon, WNYC News | February 11, 2020 | Politics
Alleging ‘soft corruption,’ coalition launches campaign to break the grip of party machines in Garden State
Credit: Nancy Solomon / A WNYC Source
Ed Potosnak of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters gives a presentation on problems with the dark-money reform bill in the state Legislature.

New Jersey activists gathered on Saturday to launch a statewide effort to reform the state’s electoral politics, including an ethics package that is intended to break the grip of party machines.

Several groups have formed a coalition called “Take Back NJ” that includes New Jersey Working Families, NJ 11th for Change and other progressive organizations that formed in the wake of the 2016 election. The coalition is launching a campaign that takes aim at what they call “soft corruption” — the ways the activists say money, patronage and the layout of the ballot undermine democracy.

Saturday’s event ran much like a teach-in. Presentations from an election lawyer, advocates and college professors offered a primer on ways the powerful keep their power. There was a session on how the New Jersey Legislature is making it easier to hide corporate money in politics with a bill that is presented as a curb on secret PAC donations, but actually does little to unmask donors. Another session focused on how the leadership in the Legislature has consolidated its power over the past 20 years.

The coalition plans to introduce a package of ethics reforms to curb corporate money in politics and create more transparency in government.

Read the full story on WNYC News, a content partner of NJ Spotlight.