Earlier this week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed key aspects of a bill that would have imposed new restrictions on the ability of national and federal political party committees to raise money from Wall Street and financial executives. The bill, as we have previously discussed, sought to apply the state’s notoriously stringent pay-to-play rules to contributions from individuals associated with investment management firms with New Jersey state contracts to the national and federal committees of political parties (such as the Democratic Governors Association or Republican National Committee). The law would have hampered party fundraising in the run-up to the 2016 elections. Christie’s veto protects party fundraising efforts at a critical juncture, especially given the continued rise of Super PACs and other outside groups. It also heads off the confusion and potential legal action arising from the state’s attempt to regulate national and federal political activity. We have noted that the bill could have impermissibly pre-empted federal election laws, a concern Christie also cited in his veto statement.
The bill now returns to the legislature, which can override the veto with a two-thirds supermajority vote of each house, or accept by simple majority Christie’s proposed changes to an unrelated provision of the bill dealing with investment manager fee reporting requirements. The bill originally passed both houses of the legislature with large majorities, although just shy of the supermajorities that would be necessary to override the veto. A primary sponsor of the bill says she is considering the options but does not favor accepting the changes Christie proposed.