N.J. may open curtain on some election donors

New Jersey lawmakers are considering new campaign disclosure requirements for some issue-advocacy groups that try to influence elections.The groups organized as nonprofit organizations can now raise unlimited amounts of money from companies and unions without revealing the identity of their donors.A bill awaiting a vote in the state Senate would require those groups to disclose contributions of $2,100 or more.New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission executive director Jeff Brindle said the idea was proposed by the commission back in January.”At this point we cannot get disclosure when these groups get involved in election-related activity. We believe that the public has a right to disclosure of donors,” said Brindle. “Transparency is very important with regard to the electoral process particularly at this time.”Brindle said Monday the issue-advocacy groups are becoming more influential than political parties in their ability to raise money and become involved in get-out-the-vote activities.Rutgers law school professor Frank Askin said he expects the measure requiring those groups to disclose their donors to survive any legal challenge.”The U.S. Supreme Court has made it very clear that disclosure laws are perfectly constitutional. That people do have a right to know,” said Askin. “There’s a lot of money going into trying to influence elections and so much of it is secret money and anonymous.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.