TRENTON—Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R- Union) has submitted legislation today to limit the ability of labor unions to make campaign contributions, saying it would close a loophole in New Jersey’s anti-pay-to-play law.
The bill would apply the same restrictions on campaign contributions and activity that currently exist for other government service providers to labor unions under contract, including project-labor agreements, with state, county, or municipal government entities.
“Labor unions are no different than a legal or engineering firm: they negotiate contracts for services with elected officials,” said Kean. “In fact, labor unions receive among the largest government contracts given out year after year, yet are free to wield unparalleled financial influence in electing the very same people who sit opposite them at the bargaining table.”
Kean noted that, according to ELEC, organized labor outspent the next closest interest group by a margin of 8-1 in the 2010 election cycle, and 17-1 during the 2009 gubernatorial and legislative election season. Eleven of the 15 top spending special interest committees (PAC’s) identified by ELEC were run by unions in the 2010 election cycle, according to Kean.
Local government entities spend well over 50% of their overall budgets on pay and benefits for their mostly unionized workforces.
“Campaign finance and ethics reform only works if it curtails all special interest groups equally and does not carve out any exceptions to benefit one party or another,” Kean opined. “Pay to play reform was passed to limit the influence of big spending contractors over the public officials from whom they are trying to obtain work. That law missed one of the biggest recipients of public dollars and thus, must be fixed in the interest of fairness and honesty.”
Gov. Christie attempted to extend pay to play regulations to organized labor via executive order early in his first year in office. An appeals court struck down the executive order on the grounds that revising the state’s pay-to-play law could only be done by an act of the Legislature.
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