County party fundraising and spending at a 10-year low

TRENTON – Overall fundraising by county party committees for last year is down more than 70 percent compared to 2002 and fundraising is at its lowest levels in at least a decade, according to an Election Law Enforcement Commission report.

County parties raised $6.2 million and spent nearly $5.8 million in 2012, according to the report, which showed county parties raised $21.5 million and spent nearly $20 million in 2002. ELEC officials noted final totals for 2012 should be slightly higher since all counties have yet to complete all reporting.

However, ELEC’s executive director, Jeff Brindle, says the report follows a recent trend and should not come as a surprise.

“This is further evidence of what we’ve been saying for some time – fundraising by county party committees is down sharply in recent years,” Brindle said in a statement, adding several factors are likely to contribute to the decline.

“These include a sharp reduction in contributions by public contractors due to tough pay-to-play laws enacted mid-decade and the sluggish economy,” he said. “Other reasons include more spending by independent groups, including political action committees that essentially are party subsidiaries, and the loss of support from two wealthy gubernatorial candidates who previously gave large sums to county parties.”

In 2012, Democratic committees raised and spent more than Republican committees and reported more cash reserves, according to the report.

Democratic committees reported raising about $3.8 million for the year and spending roughly $3.3 million. Democratic committees reported having more than $1.2 million cash on hand.

Republican committees raised about $2.5 million and spent $2.4 million in 2012. They reported having just over $309,000 cash on hand for the year.

"I’m an undertaker by trade, so when I bury somebody, they don’t come back."
—Bergen County Democratic Chairman Lou Stellato