STATE – Special interest groups not directly affiliated with campaigns or political parties spent more than $3 million on New Jersey house and senate races last year, according to a report by NJPIRG and People for the American Way Foundation. More than 99 percent of that money came from groups that were registered outside of New Jersey.
While campaigns and political parties are limited in the amount of money they may accept from donors, there is no restriction on contributions to Super PACs and other organizations that do not coordinate with a candidate’s campaign. The Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizen’s United case in 2010 opened the floodgates for this political spending.
According to the report, Super PACs spent approximately $2.7 million on New Jersey federal election last year and raised 86% of those funds from ultra-wealthy donors who gave $100,000 or more.
Just $29,597.89 of the over $3 million in independent spending came from groups that were registered in New Jersey. “Groups federally registered outside of New Jersey accounted for 99.04% of all outside spending in New Jersey House and Senate races. Out-of-state spenders are likely to put their own priorities ahead of the needs and interests of people from New Jersey, thus skewing the relationships that Representatives and Senators have with their constituencies,” the report notes.
Patriot Prosperity Political Action Committee, a conservative group that supported Republicans Joe Kyrillos and Shmuley Boteach, was the biggest spender at $1.4 million.
Another conservative group, Congressional Leadership Fund, spent $627,000 in New Jersey. The liberal group Majority PAC was third with $582, 500 in expenditures in New Jersey. It was the second biggest spender nationwide on Congressional races, at $37.9 million.