Good Thursday morning!
I’m starting to lose my faith that the names of New Jersey laws are always a straightforward, honest description of what those laws do.
Take the “Elections Transparency Act,” for instance. When I was first confronted with this massive bill that completely changes New Jersey’s campaign finance system, I trusted that New Jersey’s leaders wouldn’t call it a “transparency act” if it didn’t make elections more transparent.
So you could imagine my shock when I got tipped to a largely-unnoticed part of the new law that could actually make elections less transparent.
You see, before Gov. Murphy quietly signed this bill in April, independent expenditure committees — like candidates, political parties and traditional PACs known in New Jersey technical parlance as “Continuing Political Committees” — had to file 48-hour reports of large donations and expenditures made in between the 11-day pre-election reports and the 20-day post-election reports the groups filed. But while a similar requirement remains for the other types of committees, independent expenditure committees are now exempted. To my reading of this law, that means if a super PAC spends millions in the final days of an election, there’s nothing to require disclosure of that spending until well after the election. (The law does take another stab at requiring dark money groups to disclose their donors, so there is a transparency-increasing element to it. But we’ll see if that holds up in court).
I checked with election lawyers and a prominent campaign treasurer to make sure I was reading the law correctly, and they agreed with my interpretation.
So anyway, I’m really shocked that New Jersey lawmakers didn’t name the Elections Transparency Act the Elections Opacity Act.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY: “One of the suspects has a tie to Philadelphia, … We just want to send a clear message to the thugs, and criminals, and gun-bearing freaks over in Philadelphia who live in a society of lawlessness: we don’t want you here. Stay out of Camden, stay out of Camden County, stay out of New Jersey. Keep your barbaric behavior in Philadelphia.” — Camden County Commissioner Lou Cappelli after a six-year-old was shot (not fatally) during July 4 fireworks in Camden.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY — Tim Larsen
WHERE’S MURPHY? — In Paulsboro to sign offshore wind, film industry and developer tax credit bills at 11:30 a.m.
NJ POLITICIANS TO GET ON IT AS SOON AS THEY FINISH FIGHTING FOR COMMUTERS WHO DRIVE INTO NYC — “Domestic workers can face abuse, terrible conditions. A bill aims to change that,” by The Asbury Park Press’ Juan Carlos Castillo: “Paladines said she endured insults and deportation threats while she worked 12-hour shifts Monday through Saturday at the home. She was originally hired for cleaning duties only, but over time, she said was continually asked to perform additional jobs, including cooking, laundry, and ironing clothes. A legislative bill of rights aimed to prevent stories like Paladines’ by establishing regulations and protections for New Jersey’s more than 60,000 domestic workers was introduced in Trenton in January 2022. But today, a year and a half later, advocates of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights are concerned that the bill hasn’t reached the Senate or Assembly floor for a vote yet. ‘At the moment, we are making sure that all parties at the table who have an interest in this bill have their concerns addressed,’ said Sen. Richard Codey, D-Essex, a main sponsor for the bill”
UNION COUNTY IS OFFICIALLY NOT CENTRAL JERSEY AND NEVER WILL BE — “Central Jersey will soon be proclaimed real under state law. But the arguments will rage on,” by NJ Advance Medai’s Brent Johnson: “State leaders are just a step away from legally putting Central Jersey on the map — the state tourism map, at least — and maybe settling one of the Garden State’s great debates in the process. Maybe … The state Legislature last week gave final legislative approval for a bill (S3206) that would require New Jersey to redraw its tourism map to include and promote Central Jersey. It’s now up to Gov. Phil Murphy to sign the measure into law or veto it. An avowed Central Jersey believer, Murphy is expected to approve it.”
SALEM TO RESUME WITCH TRIALS — “Civil and divorce trials in parts of South Jersey to resume, but Rabner suspending Passaic trials,” by New Jersey Globe’s David Wildstein: “Chief Justice Stuart Rabner has lifted the suspension of civil and matrimonial trials in three South Jersey counties after a substantial reduction in judicial vacancies but will now shut down the same kind of trials in Passaic County at the end of July. There will still be no civil and matrimonial trials in Hunterdon, Somerset, and Warren counties. Rabner halted them in February. ‘Because there are still not enough judges…the moratorium on conducting those trials regrettably remains in place,’ Rabner stated, noting that the number of vacant Superior Court judgeships remains the same.”
SLAPP UNHAPPY — “Legislators pass bill that would restrict lawsuits meant to silence critics,” by New Jersey Monitor’s Dana DiFilippo: “State lawmakers unanimously passed legislation Friday intended to shut down lawsuits that aim to intimidate or silence detractors. If Gov. Phil Murphy signs the bipartisan bill as expected, New Jersey will become the 33rd state to adopt a statute against civil lawsuits known as “SLAPPs,” short for strategic lawsuits against public participation. Such lawsuits — typically defamation or economic harm claims — are designed to chill constitutionally protected speech and debate on matters of public concern. They’re usually frivolous claims meant to bully critics into caving to plaintiffs’ demands through the threat of costly legal fees and lengthy litigation, said Bruce S. Rosen, an attorney who specializes in media and First Amendment law.”
WIND NEWS — “US gives go-ahead for Orsted’s New Jersey offshore wind farm to start construction,” by The AP’s Wayne Parry: “The federal government gave the go-ahead Wednesday for New Jersey’s first offshore wind farm to begin construction, clearing the way for the first of at least three — and likely many more — such projects in a state trying to become the East Coast leader in wind energy. The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management approved a construction and operations plan for Ocean Wind I, a wind farm to be built by Danish wind energy company Orsted between 13 and 15 miles off the coast of Atlantic City. The wind farm would power 500,000 homes.”
GOLDILOCKUPS — “Menendez files 2022 financial disclosure as subpoenas drop in new federal investigation,” by The Record’s Kristie Cattafi and Katie Sobko: “After being granted two deadline extensions, Sen. Bob Menendez, who is under federal criminal investigation, filed a Senate public financial disclosure report for 2022. In that disclosure, he reported no gifts, transactions or travel. However, Menendez’s wife, Nadine Arslanian, reported selling gold bars on four separate occasions last year … During April and June of 2022, Menendez reported that Arslanian, an international businesswoman who lives in Bergen County, sold gold bullion. Partial sales were reported on April 7, 2022, April 8, 2022, June 14, 2022, and June 16, 2022. The sales ranged from $50,001 to $100,000 each.”
NEWSMAX…IMUM SENTENCE — “Capitol riot suspect from Lindenwold was victim of misinformation, his attorney says,” by The Courier-Post’s Jim Walsh: “A South Jersey man facing a prison term for his role in the U.S. Capitol riot should be shown leniency because he was “an over-consumer of conspiratorial sources of news,” his defense attorney argues. Michael Oliveras, 50, of Lindenwold ‘had no way to independently verify the accuracy of what those sites were reporting as ‘fact’ when making allegations regarding the integrity of the election process,’ the lawyer, Michael Shipley, said in a July 3 court filing. He said Oliveras’ exposure to election claims “which lacked any significant factual foundation” should be considered as a mitigating factor at his July 13 sentencing. Shipley asserted a prison term of one year and a day would be ‘fair and just for Oliveras. A federal prosecutor wants a 30-month prison term for the carpenter.”
DO IT OR ELSE AC — “State threatens Atlantic City with loss of property tax cut,” by The Press of Atlantic City’s Michelle Brunetti Post: “The state has given City Council a choice: Pass the 2023 budget that includes a 5-cent decrease in the property tax rate by Friday, or lose the tax cut. “If the governing body fails to comply with the above deadline, I … will prepare a CY 2023 municipal budget for the city and submit same to the (Local Finance) Board for final approval,” wrote Jacquelyn A. Suarez, director of the Division of Local Government Services, in a June 30 letter to Council President Aaron “Sporty” Randolph. Council voted 5-4 not to approve the budget on May 24, with some members saying they felt left out of the process by the state and Mayor Marty Small Sr.’s administration. ‘At this juncture, any budget I submit to the Board on the City’s behalf will not include a municipal tax levy decrease, as currently proposed by the city,’ Suarez wrote.”
IT’S 11 P.M. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR COUNCILMEMBERS ARE? — “N.J. town’s mayor seeks to end lengthy council meetings by closing building,” by NJ Advance Media’s Brianna Kudich: “An Essex County mayor is asking staffers to close all municipal buildings by 11 p.m., with a few exceptions, to curtail hours-long council meetings that have lasted into the next morning. West Orange Mayor Susan McCartney recently issued an executive order declaring public buildings will be closed at 11 p.m. except for police, fire and other building uses required during emergencies. ‘The past couple of council meetings have gone on (until) 2 or 3 a.m., which I don’t think is fair and reasonable to expect the administration to report to work at 8:30 the next morning,’ she told NJ Advance Media. ‘I’m not trying to stifle public comment.’ …The township will not provide staff or vendor support after the time, McCartney said. If council meetings continue past the time, they will take place at a different location, she said. It’s unclear how enforceable or legal the order is.”
THE DAILY TROUBLE — “Ocean County College’s accreditation ‘may be in jeopardy’,”by The Asbury Park Press’ Erik Larsen: “Ocean County College has been warned that its accreditation may be in jeopardy because of insufficient evidence the institution has met certain standards in how the school is governed and administered. The community college received the notice of non-compliance from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education last Thursday. The warning came on the penultimate day of President Jon H. Larson’s 23-year-long tenure as chief executive of OCC before he retired Friday. No specific issue with the administration was identified in the documents available to the public.
BERNARDS TEENS IMMEDIATELY STOP USING INTERNET FOLLOWING ADVICE OF SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER — “Bernards Board of Education’s culture wars claims another sociology textbook,” by MyCentralJersey’s Cheryl Makin: “Another sociology textbook recommended by the school district’s professional educators has been rejected by the school board in another battle in the simmering culture wars in the district. Board members voted late last month 4-3 to veto the administration’s proposal of ‘Sociology: A Brief Introduction, High School Edition.’ In April, the board voted 5-4 to nix another sociology textbook, ‘The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology.’ … critics … said it was unbalanced. [Csilla] Csipak said she had an ‘excessive’ amount of notes on her issues with the textbook … These included lifestyle sections in the text on topics such as marriage, single life, roles of men and women and a mention that young members of the LGBTQ community use online resources for information and ‘dating services.’ The internet, she said, has a ‘dark side,’ and students should not be encouraged to use it.”
BELMARRED — “Will Belmar succeed in keeping Verizon’s ‘ugly’ 40-foot 5g poles away from its boardwalk?” by The Asbury Park Press’ Ken Serrano: “. Borough residents and newly-elected officials say they were caught off guard earlier this year when they learned that Verizon planned to install poles as high as 40 feet carrying 5G wireless equipment next to Belmar’s boardwalk. Prior to that, little of the plan came to light in public forums, Mayor Gerald Buccafusco said … Kevin Kane, borough business administrator, recalled a phone call he got early this year from someone representing Verizon shortly after he started the job. “They wanted to know what color we wanted the poles to be,” Kane said. “I said, ‘What poles?’” Now, despite a settlement between Verizon and the Belmar officials who were in charge before a change of guard on council, the borough – and now Monmouth County – are fighting back.’”
STINGS LIKE A BEE — “Ali fast tracks vote for Morris GOP chairmanship,” by InsiderNJ’s Fred Snowflack: “Laura Ali wants another term as Morris County Republican chair – and she wants it now. Ali has called a sudden convention for this coming Saturday when she and her leadership team will seek reelection. All the terms don’t officially end until next June. This bold – or perhaps audacious – move seems designed to do one thing: Reinforce Ali’s leadership by giving her a big vote of confidence. It’s a risky strategy on the surface. Whenever people vote, you can lose. Then again, an opposition candidate would need to organize a campaign in a few days over the Fourth of July. That’s no easy chore. Those wanting to challenge Ali must make their intentions known by noon on Thursday.”