Center for a Better New Jersey Not Bound by Donor Disclosure, Pay-to-Play Restrictions, Donation Limits
(TRENTON) — Senator Loretta Weinberg and Assemblywomen Bonnie Watson Coleman and Nellie Pou — three of the Legislature’s leading advocates for open and transparent government — issued a multimedia package Friday calling on Republicans to immediately disclose the contributors and expenditures of the shadowy fundraising group they established to circumvent the public’s interest in the upcoming legislative redistricting process.
The three lawmakers said immediate disclosure would eliminate any undue outside influences in the redistricting process and would ensure that the best interests of New Jersey residents come first.
In 2009, Senator Tom Kean, Jr., and Assemblyman Alex DeCroce — the Republican minority leaders of their respective houses — created the Center for a Better New Jersey. The group, a 501(c)4 non-profit organization, does not have to abide by New Jersey’s donor disclosure laws, pay-to-play restrictions or fundraising donation limits.
The multimedia package consists of a video of the legislators calling on the GOP to fully disclose their donor and expenditure list and audio and a transcript of same.
The audio file is available upon request.
A transcript of comments from the legislators is appended below:
Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen):
“What we’re talking about here is how that process [legislative redistricting] is getting funded by a shadow group that is closely associated with the minority leader of the Senate and the minority leader of the Assembly, each of whom already have their own leadership PACs, and have now created a new organization that can accept contributions not subject to pay-to-play, not subject to disclosure laws, not subject to the maximum contributions. That’s what we’re talking about here. That’s a serious, and I think dangerous, precedent in the State of New Jersey.
Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer):
“And it is the development of a pattern that is very scary because it’s placing power without accountability in the hands of anonymous and wealthy people. For what purpose?”
Assemblywoman Nellie Pou (D-Passaic):
“Clearly, I think it’s important for us as legislators to come up and speak on the importance of full participation from the public and full participation to ensure that our voters have their rights upheld. But, at the same time, have that with complete, total, full understanding of what’s behind it, and providing that full disclosure will certainly allow for that.”
“And isn’t that the biggest question of all? Why not? What are you trying to hide? If it’s right, if it’s legitimate, if it’s valid, then why shouldn’t it… what is the negative impact of having public knowledge of the who, what, when, where, why and how?
“That’s the question that should be asked: What’re you hiding?”