Watchdog Groups Concerned Over Donations From PACs In N.J.

April 8, 2012 12:00 AM

Watchdog Groups Concerned Over Donations From PACs In N.J.
" TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Watchdog groups are raising new concerns about the growing number of political action committees that critics say are skirting New Jersey’s various pay-to-play laws.

A review by The Star-Ledger of Newark found that the PACs have collected millions of dollars from engineering firms, insurance brokers and other contractors and then made sizable donations to elected officials who award government contracts.

The watchdog groups acknowledge that the PACs are not violating state or local pay-to-play laws, which often bar contractors from donating large sums directly to county political organizations. But they say the PACs are violating the spirit of the laws, which were intended to ensure contractors earn their business fairly.

The watchdog groups — and many officials — want the state Legislature to close the loopholes that allow the donations to occur.

“Money buys results,” said former state Sen. Bill Schluter, a Republican who is chairman of the state Ethics Commission. “At the very least it’s tribute, not just to gain access but to ensure you get a fair shake "

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