With the New Jersey gubernatorial primary election fast approaching, we have been tracking a legal challenge to the State’s treatment of contributions to Super PACs. Back in March, the Election Law Enforcement Commission issued an advisory opinion to the Fund for Jobs and Growth, explaining that the group would need to adhere to contribution limits even though its activities are limited to independent expenditures. A few weeks later, the Fund sued the Commission in federal court on the ground that applying a contribution limit to a Super PAC is unconstitutional.
In late April, the federal district court issued a preliminary injunction that enjoined the Commission “from enforcing the contribution limit contained in N.J.S.A. 19:44A-11.5” against the Fund. And now, according to press reports, the Commission has unofficially agreed to a permanent injunction that would allow the Fund to raise unlimited funds from donors as a Super PAC. The next step is for the Fund and the Commission to present the agreement to the court.
If the court accepts the agreement, which seems highly likely, the permanent injunction it issues will, by its terms, refer only to the Fund. Nonetheless, if this unfolds as the media reports anticipate, the effect likely will be to allow any Super PAC in New Jersey to raise unlimited funds from donors. We will provide an update once the court acts definitively.
***Update (June 6, 2013): The court has yet to approve the permanent injunction, but the Commission has included a brief update in its June 2013 newsletter (page 3) that reflects the proposed agreement.