News Flash

Corzine Approves Campaign Finance Reform

NewsFlash — Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Associated Press

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey will offer taxpayer cash to Assembly and Senate candidates in three districts this year in an effort to remove special-interest money from campaigns under a measure signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Jon S. Corzine.

Supporters hope the law will push New Jersey closer to having a statewide publicly funded campaign program, as Arizona, Connecticut and Maine have done.

"It is an important step forward that gets us closer to having a more open government that is accountable only to the people," Corzine said.

Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts Jr., a major backer of the plan, said the law will strengthen the democratic process by removing questionable money from politics.

"This is not an academic exercise," said Roberts, D-Camden. "This is something that is real and something that has to succeed."

Under the bill, candidates for the Assembly and Senate in three districts would be eligible for public campaign financing by first raising $10,000 in seed money – all donations coming from individuals in amounts of $500 or less.

Candidates would then be required to collect only donations of $10. Upon collecting 400 donations, candidates would get $50,000 for campaign expenses, while collecting 800 donations would earn them $100,000.

Independent candidates would be able to qualify for up to half the amount allowed for the two major parties.

About $7.7 million would be provided to fund the program. Of that, $6.75 million would go to candidates, with the rest designated for administrative expenses and public information efforts.

The three participating districts will be selected by April 16.

The bill aims to revamp a pilot program that had limited success in 2005 Assembly elections.

Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Mercer, hoped the program will help bring more women and minorities into politics, while Roberts said he's committed to expanding the program.

"We are moving the reform agenda forward, taking one more step toward making fundamental change in the way we do politics in New Jersey," said Vic De Luca, of New Jersey Citizen Action, a government watchdog group that lobbied for the law.

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