Defending Small “d” Democracy
Nationwide, the foundations of our democracy are under attack in countless ways. Here in New Jersey, a specific threat to our democratic integrity reared its head in June 2022: a proposed change to campaign finance regulations.
The bill — purported to be just a simplification of a confusingly complex law — would in reality have worsened New Jersey’s already anti-democratic “pay to play” system. It would have doubled contribution limits for candidates and party organizations, and allowed public contracts to be awarded to firms that donate to political parties (something such firms have long been barred from). In addition, the proposed bill would have blocked municipalities from enacting their own pay-to-play laws, dealing a significant blow to New Jersey’s anti-corruption rules.
BlueWaveNJ, as part of a statewide coalition of twenty-five concerned groups, submitted a powerful letter on June 28 to prevent this bill’s passage. “[T]his bill would drive up costs for taxpayers by removing checks on corruption and government spending that benefits politically connected companies,” the letter said. We are pleased to say that on June 29 — the day after the letter was received — General Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and the Assembly Democrats decided not to post the bill for a vote! Unfortunately, this bill could resurface in 2023.