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Posted Thursday, June 13th, 2019

Asemblywoman DeCroce and Assemblyman DePhillips Author Political Integrity and Transparency Bill 

Freeholder Tom Mastrangelo

Freeholder Tom Mastrangelo

The Morris County Board of Freeholders last night unanimously endorsed a two-bill package authored by Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce and Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips that would require detailed disclosure of the identity of campaign consultants and consulting companies, and require those companies to file annual  and detailed reports with the state.

“The integrity of our political system rests upon transparency and public trust,” said Morris County Freeholder Tom Mastrangelo, who proposed the Freeholder Board’s decision to support the two bills. “We must ensure honesty in our electoral system, that our residents are fully aware of all factors in a campaign  so they can cast an informed vote.”

Legislative Bill A-5542 would prohibit a campaign treasurer, candidate, member of a candidate’s campaign committee, joint candidate political committee, continuing political committee, political party committee, or legislative leadership committee from making any expenditure to a company whose principals cannot be readily identified via registration with the state of New Jersey, another state or the federal government.

The bills make violations of these rules a criminal offense and include fines up to $6,000 for a first offense and up to $12,000 for a second and subsequent offenses.

Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce

Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce

CompanionBill A-5541 would require limited liability companies operating in New Jersey to file annual reports with the state, including names and addresses of the company, registered agents, managers and managing members. Such companies also would be required to prominently display that information on websites it maintains.

“I thank the Board of Freeholders for supporting these critically important pieces of legislation,” said Assemblywoman DeCroce. “There is no room in our state’s politics for candidates who use shell corporations to conceal the identity of their consultants.

“These bills will help close a loophole in our Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) statutes. Unfortunately, these types of actions became an issue in our recent primary election here in Morris County. At a time when our nation is concerned about foreign interference in elections, how do we know that unidentifiable political consulting firms aren’t shell corporations financed by foreign governments,” DeCroce added.

Under current state law, persons making expenditures on behalf of candidates for election are required to report campaign contributions and expenditures, and they are prohibited from making false reports. These two new bills enact new and tougher requirements.