Independent special interest groups have been pouring money into Legislative races in New Jersey, according to analysis released recently by that state’s Election Law and Enforcement Commission.
Just how much might be surprising: According to the commission’s Executive Director Jeff Brindle, special interest groups already have spent $5.4 million on the general election for a total of $6.3 million, including the primary.
That is triple the $1.8 million spent independently during the entire legislative election in 2011.
In the 2013 legislative elections, an estimated $14.8 million was spent by independent committees. The net spending was $10.5 million after adjusting for transfers between committees.
Brindle said the burst of activity by so-called “outside” groups is further proof that independent committees have become a fixture in New Jersey elections.
For instance, Newark’s election last year drew $5.5 million in independent spending- a record for a local race.
“The last time Assembly candidates ran alone on the ticket in 1999, there was no independent spending,’’ he said. “Interestingly, independent group spending in this
year’s Assembly general election so far represents 45percent of total spending,’’ Brindle said.
“Usually, an election with just Assembly candidates on the ballot is a low-key affair. But the involvement of the independent committees is definitely adding some drama this year,’’ he said.