Outside Spending on NJ Election Nears $38M

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -

Special interest groups have spent about $38 million in New Jersey this year to influence the elections for governor and legislature and voting on ballot questions, more than double the record amount of outside money spent in 2009, the state Election Law Enforcement Commission reported.

The biggest outside spender has been Garden State Forward, a special political action committee formed by the state’s largest teacher’s union. It spent close to $12 million on the races for governor and Legislature, accounting for about one-third of all the outside spending on those contests.

The commission said the NJEA, whose regular political action committee has spent more than $1.4 million, has never before spent more than $2.3 million on an election. Regular political action committees are subject to state contribution limits.

Independent groups that support Democratic candidates are dominating Republicans by a roughly 2-to-1 margin.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie raised about $13 million through Oct. 25, including $8.2 in public funding, and Democrat Barbara Buono raised close to $2.8 million, including $1.6 million in public funds.