Wingate, J.c.c. Temporarily Assigned.
[139 NJSuper Page 594] In this matter defendant has filed a waiver of trial by jury, to which has been annexed a letter of authorization from The Bank of
New Jersey, signed by the chairman of the board, W. Robert Davis, authorizing its counsel, Edward A. Penberthy, to waive a jury trial in behalf of defendant and to submit the matter to the court upon the agreed stipulation of facts. Additionally, both the prosecutor and defense counsel have agreed to submit the matter to the court upon the respective briefs already filed without the necessity of further argument. The stipulation of facts has been received into evidence, as has a certain check of The Bank of New Jersey dated April 5, 1973 in the amount of $1,000 payable to the Errichetti Campaign Committee.
Accordingly, the court has reviewed the matter, including the stipulation of facts and the briefs submitted, and has arrived at the following conclusions.
This matter comes before the court, without a jury, upon an indictment that charges defendant The Bank of New Jersey (hereinafter "bank") with the illegal payment or contribution of $1,000 by the purchase of tickets in order to aid or promote the election of a certain Angelo J. Errichetti who was then a candidate for the office of mayor of the City of Camden, contrary to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 19:34-45. This statute, in brief, provides that "no * * * bank * * * shall pay or contribute money or thing of value in order to aid or promote the nomination or election of any person * * *."
A statement of stipulated facts was entered into by the parties and it is upon this and the legal issues and arguments raised by defendant bank that this court must reach its determination.
In substance the stipulation is that in May 1973 an election was held in Camden for the office of the mayor. An officer of the bank agreed to purchase ten tickets to a certain reception and dinner. A check of the bank was issued in the amount of $1,000 payable to the Errichetti Campaign Committee, and the function was attended by officers of the bank.
Defendant seeks a judgment of acquittal and advances a series of arguments in support thereof with which the court will now deal.
First, that the purchase of the tickets and attendance at the dinner was not prohibited by the statute, N.J.S.A. 19:34-45. Defendant argues that § 45 does not proscribe the purchase of tickets, pointing to § 44 which deals specifically with the solicitation of the purchase of tickets, and § 32 which prohibits insurance companies from making contributions "directly or indirectly," whereas § 45 only generally forbids the payment or contribution of money or thing of value in order to aid or promote the election of any person.
Thus, the question is raised whether the purchase of tickets to a political reception and dinner is a payment or contribution to aid or promote the election of a person within the scope of the statute. Two significant facts are in the stipulation, namely, the price of the tickets was $100 each, and payment for them was by check payable to "Errichetti Campaign Committee". In determining whether a statute meets the standards of clarity and narrowness (specificity) one of the tests is whether it is susceptible to objective measurement by men of common intelligence. State v. Profaci , 56 N.J. 346 (1970). In interpreting and defining a statute a court cannot ignore the well known facts of our social or public way of life. Receptions and dinners are not commonplace events at a price of $100 a ticket. Likewise, when payment for these is made to a campaign committee any reasonable person would know and understand that the proceeds were for the purpose of aiding or promoting the election of a person, particularly when the name of that person is appended to the campaign committee to whom payment was made, i.e. , "Errichetti Campaign Committee." A reasonable interpretation of these two facts can lead only to the inescapable conclusion that this was a payment of money prohibited by the statute. The statute is abundantly clear and its application to this case needs no further interpretation
or explanation. Men of common intelligence would have no difficulty in understanding this. ...