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Hammer v. N.J. Voice

December 6, 1996

PAMELA J. HAMMER AND DARRYL S. BECKMAN, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
N.J. VOICE, INC., A CONTINUING POLITICAL COMMITTEE, THE ELECTION FUND OF CRAIG REIDER AND RONALD RICHARDS A/K/A VISION FOR VOORHEES AND RICHARD A. ALAIMO ASSOCIATES A/K/A RICHARD A. ALAIMO ASSOCIATION OF ENGINEER A/K/A RICHARD A. ALAIMO ENGINEERING ASSOCIATES A/K/A RICHARD A. ALAIMO ENGINEERING COMPANY, DEFENDANTS



Louis F. Hornstine, J.s.c.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hornstine

Louis F. Hornstine, J.S.C.

Plaintiffs seek injunctive relief against defendants, alleging violations of "The New Jersey Campaign Contribution and Expenditures Reporting Act" (N.J.S.A. 19:44A-1 through -47 (Reporting Act). The matter is brought before the Court in a summary action pursuant to N.J.S.A. 19:44A-22.1.

Plaintiffs, Pamela J. Hammer and Darryl S. Beckman are the candidates of the Democratic Party for seats on the Voorhees Township Committee which was contested in a general election on November 5, 1996 (election).

Plaintiffs' opponents, inter alia, in the election included Craig Reider and Ronald Richards, the candidate of the Republican Party. They are party litigants in this matter as The Election Fund of Craig Reider and Ronald Richards a/k/a Vision For Voorhees (V.F.V.).

Richard A. Alaimo Associates, Richard A. Alaimo Association of Engineers, Richard A. Alaimo Engineering Associates and Richard A. Alaimo Engineering Company (Alaimo Group) are all business entities that are defendants herein. They are owned, operated and/or controlled by Richard A. Alaimo (Alaimo).

Defendant, N.J. Voice, Inc. (NJV) is a continuing political committee as defined in N.J.S.A. 19:44A-3(n). N.J. Voice, Inc. is totally funded by Richard A. Alaimo and the Alaimo Group.

Plaintiffs have alleged that the respective defendants have made and/or accepted contributions in connection with the 1996 Voorhees Municipal Election in a manner violative of the provisions of the Reporting Act. Plaintiffs have asserted irreparable harm unless the defendants are enjoined and restrained.

Campaign financing for municipal elections is regulated by the Reporting Act. It has been both in the public interest and the public policy of the State of New Jersey to limit political contributions to candidates for public office and to require the proper reporting of all contributions received and expenditures made to promote the election of a candidate for public office.

The Legislative intent of the Reporting Act is incorporated in N.J.S.A. 19:44A-2:

It is hereby declared to be in the public interest and to be the policy of the State to limit the campaign expenditures by candidates for public office and to require the reporting of all contributions received and expenditures made to aid or promote the nomination, election or defeat of any candidate for public office or to aid or promote the passage or defeat of a public question in any election and to require the reporting of all contributions received and expenditures made to provide political information on any candidate for public office, or on any public question.

In enacting the election finance laws, the Legislature's objective is "to fix 'the glare of the public spotlight' on all activities intended to affect the political process in this State." N.J. Election Law Enforcement Commission v. Citizens To Make Mayor-Council Government Work, 107 N.J. 380, 386, 526 A.2d 1069 (1987). "The manifest objective of the New Jersey Campaign and Expenditures Reporting Act is to identify and attempt to regulate the significant flow of substantial wealth aimed at affecting the outcome of elections, public questions and the legislative process." N.J. State Chamber of Commerce v. N.J. Election Law Enforcement Commission, 135 N.J. Super. 537, 544, 343 A.2d 796 (Ch. Div. 1975), reversed on other grounds, 155 N.J. Super. 218, 382 A.2d 670 (App. Div. 1977), modified on other grounds, 82 N.J. 57 (1980).

Pursuant to the Reporting Act, an individual or corporation may not contribute money to a candidate which, in the aggregate, exceeds $1,500.00 per candidate per election, and a candidate may not knowingly accept contributions of money from a contributor which, in the aggregate, exceeds $1,500.00 per candidate per election. (see N.J.S.A. 19:44A-11.3(a)).

A continuing political committee may not make a monetary contribution to a candidate which, in the aggregate, exceeds $5,000.00 per election, and a candidate may not knowingly accept a financial contribution from any continuing political committee source which, in the aggregate, exceeds ...


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