RARITAN, NJ - Raritan Borough has approved a resolution in support of efforts to provide greater transparency with regard to political donations, while also limiting the influence of money in politics.
The council heard from David Goodman, of Represent.Us/Central NJ, who spoke about the national organization with 41 chapters in total that is concerned about the effect of big money in distorting elections and politics.
“This crosses political parties,” he said. “This is an American concern.”
Mayor Charles McMullin said he spoke to members of the group at Riverfest, and invited them to speak to the council and bring their resolution forward.
“Their mission is that there is way too much money in politics, and they are trying to do something about it,” he said.
Goodman said this is an issue that faces not just the federal government, but state and local elections too. He said the central jersey chapter, which covers Middlesex and Mercer and is speaking to its first Somerset town in Raritan, is working with the Assembly in Trenton, and with the Senate, on bills regarding the issue.
“One would require independent expenditures to be revealed,” he said.
“There is no reason why disclosure and transparency cannot prevail,” he added. “We felt there was no reason why the public couldn’t take charge.”
Councilman Paul Giraldi said he would certainly support the resolution, but doesn't foresee any change actually happening.
"In a perfect world, I agree with you 100 percent, it's too much money," he said. "But you're going to ask the same people to cut off the money flow, I don't see it happening. They are not going to cut their own throats."
The national group has been active since 2013.
In 2010, according to the borough’s resolution, a Supreme Court ruling prohibited the government from restricting political payments from non-profit corporations, for-profit corporations, labor unions and other associations. And, the resolution said, the influence of a limited group of donors on the political process has expanded to a point where it can marginalize the views of ordinary citizens.
In the resolution, the borough council is encouraging the United States Congress and the New Jersey State Legislature to enact measures that can provide ordinary citizens with a greater voice in the electoral process.
Legislation is being worked on to control campaign financing, limit the influence of unregulated donors and promote transparency.
“What we’ve been doing is we’ve been working with towns to put together a network for a powerful message for legislators of Trenton,” Goodman said. “If they know their constituents are concerned about his issue, they will pay attention. It is an issue that has percolated to the top.”