NJ Companies Forced To Disclose Political Donations Under Legislation [AUDIO]
In response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision rejecting bipartisan efforts to restrict campaign spending by corporations, a New Jersey legislator is introducing legislation to require corporations that receive financial help from New Jersey taxpayers or are publicly traded in the state to publicly detail their political contributions and expenditures.
"If a corporation is receiving financial help from New Jersey taxpayers, then the taxpayers deserve to know if that corporation is involving itself politics and whom and what it supports," says Assemblyman Tim Eustace. "The same goes for shareholders. Corporations have a right to immerse themselves in politics, but they should definitely not be allowed to do so secretly if they're receiving state taxpayer help. If a corporation is taking assistance from hard-working New Jersey taxpayers, then those taxpayers have a right to know."
Eustace is sponsoring two bills. One would require corporations applying for or receiving an economic development subsidy of $25,000 or more from a state agency to provide a list of every expenditure greater than $10,000 made by the corporation or its parent to support or oppose a candidacy for elective public office in or from this state, or to support or oppose a public question in this state.
The other measure would force disclosure of information about contributions and expenditures for candidates for elective public office or for public questions by publicly traded corporations doing business in state.
"These are reasonable and responsible bills that do not infringe upon any definition of free speech rights," explains Eustace. "Instead, they strengthen the right of the public and shareholders to know how their money is being spent. That's always a good thing."
Under current law, a publicly traded corporation can make political contributions and expenditures, but is not required to provide easily-accessible details about those contributions and expenditures to its shareholders.
Eustace says, "This is quite simple, really - publicly traded corporations doing business in this state should have to publicly disclose the purposes for which their money is being used to influence support for or opposition against candidates and public questions."
New Jersey grants a lot of tax incentives, grants and other subsidies to businesses, and already collects economic development data from those businesses on how the money is being spent. Under the Eustace bill, political contributions would be among the data required for submission to the state agency granting the subsidy.