Last year, we blogged about a new and highly restrictive disclosure law in New Jersey that took aim at so-called “dark money” spending by nonprofit and political organizations. In response to a series of lawsuits, a federal court has issued an order permanently prohibiting the state from enforcing the law against “independent expenditure committees” as defined in that law. An independent expenditure committee is defined as an entity:
- organized under federal tax law as a 527 political organization or § 501(c)(4) social welfare organization;
- that is not otherwise a political committee in the state; and
- that raises or spends $3,000 or more in an attempt to influence an election or the passage or defeat of a public question, legislation, or regulation, without coordinating those activities with a candidate or party. “Coordinating” is defined in great detail.
The order notes that it does not prevent the state from passing new legislation on the same topic, which state leaders have previously indicated they plan to do.