TRENTON – Legislation that would prohibit the soliciting of campaign contributions on public property by elective public office candidates and ban people from making contributions to such candidates on public property was approved 74-0 Monday by the Assembly, giving it final legislative approval.
The sponsors of the bill introduced it after reports by The Star-Ledger about allegations that jobs and promotions in the Elizabeth schools were tied to the amount of money employees contribute to school board candidates and others running for political office.
“It’s long past time to close this loophole that unfortunately has led to disturbing concerns about political activity in school facilities,” said Assemblyman Joseph Cryan (D-Union), a sponsor of the bill. “Schools must be for educating our children. They are not for political fund-raising. This is common sense.”
Under the bill (A-4432), no candidate or holder of elective public office – or a candidate’s representative – could solicit any contribution on property exclusively owned or leased by the state, any agency of the state or any county, municipality, board of education, fire district, authority or other state or local entity, district or instrumentality.
At the same time, no person, while located on any property exclusively owned or leased by such entities would be permitted to make any contribution to or on behalf of any candidate for elective public office or to a candidate committee or joint candidate committee.
“We must make it clear that such activity in public facilities owned by government is unacceptable,” said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union), another sponsor of the bill. “There is a right time and place for politics, but places like schools should be kept clear to protect not only the children, but the taxpayers who fund these facilities. We need to draw a strict and clear line in the sand.”
The bill also confers jurisdiction upon the Election Law Enforcement Commission to enforce the bill. Anybody violating the law would be liable to a penalty of not less than $5,000 for each violation.
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