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Local Super PAC Question Approved in Landslide

The local ordinance requires Gloucester Township vendors to report contributions to so-called Super PACs.

UPDATE, 2:58 p.m. 11/7: With all 40 districts in, the question was approved by a vote of 14,381 to 3,767.

The result will not be certified until Camden County election officials count provisional ballots.

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Voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly supported a local ballot question put forth by Democrats this summer that will require, among other things, that Gloucester Township vendors report contributions to so-called Super PACs.

With results from 38 of 40 districts in, the measure was approved by a vote of 14,036 to 3,677, according to unofficial results released by Camden County Tuesday night.

The ordinance must remain in effect for at least three years unless overturned by voters in a subsequent election, per state law.

Gloucester Township Councilman Dan Hutchison initially put the Super PAC (political action committee) ordinance before the Township Council in early July, at which time it was approved on first reading, but later asked that the measure be tabled.

In addition to targeting Super PACs, the new ordinance will mandate the township use the "fair and open" bidding process included in the state's pay-to-play law when awarding contracts and will place limits on campaign contributions from certain vendors. (See attached PDF to view the ordinance.)

Opponents have been critical of the ordinance's mandating the township use the "fair and open" process—a process critics have long contended is too vague as written at the state level and results in elected officials rewarding campaign contributors with lucrative contracts.

The ordinance resurfaced as part of a citizens' initiative a few weeks after Hutchison had pulled it back, before being submitted to Clerk Rosemary DiJosie on Aug. 2. Petition circulators were Robert Richards, Joseph Pillo, Dora Guevara, Cindy Clark and Theresa Marrama.

Council chose not to act on the ordinance when DiJosie presented it to the governing body on Aug. 27, effectively moving it to the ballot for township voters' consideration.

"I expressed to you one of my main concerns was the Super PACs and trying to bring those donors out into the open," Hutchison told Broadacres Drive resident Joshua Berry, whose South Jersey Citizens watchdog group saw its hopes to have a pay-to-play petition ordinance put to voters in 2012 brought to an end in early August by an appellate court decision, in early August. "And I believe this ordinance accomplishes that very important thing."

Berry indicated before Tuesday's election that he did not believe voters approving the ballot question would impact his group's efforts to see its pay-to-play ordinance, which would eliminate the loophole his group contends is created by the "fair and open" process, put to voters next year.

"Let me be clear: passing or rejecting this ordinance will have no impact to us or anyone else putting another pay to play ordinance on next year's ballot. It if passes, council cannot enact real reform for three years but they were not going to do that anyway unless the Republicans get control over council," he wrote on Gloucester Township Patch. "It also means the (Democrats) cannot put up this measure to compete with any citizen led reform since this ordinance would already be enacted."

The ordinance does not prohibit vendors who contribute to Super PACs from doing business with Gloucester Township—only that they disclose those contributions to township officials.

Super PACs cannot make contributions to candidate campaigns or parties, but are allowed to spend as much as they like, independent of campaigns, to support or oppose candidates. Also, unlike traditional PACs, Super PACs can raise funds from corporations, unions and individuals without legal limits.

Big Daddy 1 November 07, 2012 at 12:40 PM
So GT can still select super pac donors for contracts. And GT can still "select" anyone they want under the so-called "fair and open" process (which is neither of the above). So exactly what did this ordinance do that will change anything? GT is still free to give contracts to their big donors and Norcross favorites like they do now.
GTWatchdawg November 08, 2012 at 12:29 AM
USELESS Remmington & Vernick, Blue Sky, Inverso & Stewart, CES, and the rest will still give their tens of thousands. So many can still buy their way into business in Gloucester Township.
Schu November 08, 2012 at 02:31 AM
This Super PAC question was a total shame and does nothing to make our local government transparent.

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