SENATE, No. 165

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

219th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2020 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  KRISTIN M. CORRADO

District 40 (Bergen, Essex, Morris and Passaic)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Prohibits candidates and elected public officials charged with crimes from using campaign contributions for their legal defense.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.

  


An Act concerning the use of contributions received by a candidate and amending P.L.1993, c.65.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    Section 17 of P.L.1993, c.65 (C.19:44A-11.2) is amended to read as follows:

     17.     a.  All contributions received by a candidate, candidate committee, a joint candidates committee or a legislative leadership committee shall be used only for the following purposes: 

     (1)   the payment of campaign expenses;

     (2)   contributions to any charitable organization described in section 170(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, as amended or modified, or nonprofit organization which is exempt from taxation under section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954; 

     (3)   transmittal to another candidate, candidate committee, or joint candidates committee, or to a political committee, continuing political committee, legislative leadership committee or political party committee, for the lawful use by such other candidate or committee; 

     (4)   the payment of the overhead and administrative expenses related to the operation of the candidate committee or joint candidates committee of a candidate or a legislative leadership committee; 

     (5)   the pro rata repayment of contributors; or

     (6)   the payment of ordinary and necessary expenses of holding public office. 

     As used in this subsection, "campaign expenses" means any expense incurred or expenditure made by a candidate, candidate committee, joint candidates committee or legislative leadership committee for the purpose of paying for or leasing items or services used in connection with an election campaign, other than those items or services which may reasonably be considered to be for the personal use of the candidate, any person associated with the candidate or any of the members of a legislative leadership committee. 

      b.   No contribution received by a candidate or by the candidate committee or joint candidates committee of a candidate may be used for:

     (1)   the payment of the expenses arising from the furnishing, staffing or operation of an office used in connection with that person's official duties as an elected public official; or

     (2)   the payment of any expense arising from the candidate’s defense of himself or herself for violating any provision of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, or for violating any other criminal statute in another jurisdiction or of the federal government

     c.     Any funds remaining in the campaign depository of a candidate's candidate committee or joint candidates committee upon the death of the candidate shall be used only for one or more of the purposes established in subsection a. of this section by the committee's organizational treasurer or deputy treasurer or whoever has control of the depository upon the death of the candidate. 

(cf: P.L.2007, c.202, s.17)

 

     2.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill clarifies that no contributions received by a candidate for elective public office, or the committee of such a candidate or a legislative leadership committee, can be used by that person for the payment of any expense arising from his or her legal defense for violating any provision of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, or for violating any other criminal statute in another jurisdiction or of the federal government.

     The provisions of this bill apply to any person serving in elective public office because the definition of a candidate in current State campaign finance law (N.J.S.A.19:44A-3c) includes a person elected to public office.

     Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes provides, for example, that a person found guilty of bribery in official and political matters, and a person found guilty of official misconduct, has committed crimes of the second degree, each of which is punishable by a term of imprisonment of between 5 and 10 years and a fine of up to $150,000.

     The campaign contributions that a person raises for election to public office were never intended for use by a candidate, or an elected public official, for his or her legal defense against criminal charges.  This bill amends current law so that it is interpreted to conform with the original intention of the Legislature with regard to the permissible uses of campaign contributions.