New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy Tightens Executive Branch Gift Restrictions on First Full Day in Office

In his first full day in office, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 2, tightening ethics restrictions and disclosure requirements on certain State employees and public officers.

The following State employees and public officers are required to file a detailed financial disclosure with the State Ethics commission within 120 days of commencing employment and then by May 15th each year:

  • The Governor;
  • The Lieutenant Governor;
  • Heads of principal departments in the Executive Branch;
  • Chiefs of staff and assistant or deputy heads of principal departments;
  • Heads and assistant heads of divisions within a principal department;
  • The Governor’s senior staff; and
  • The CEOs and board members of New Jersey’s various commissions and authorities.

These disclosure obligations also cover the spouses or domestic partners and dependent children of the above-listed individuals.

The financial disclosure must include:

  • A list of all assets over $1,000;
  • A list of liabilities owed, with certain exceptions; and
  • A list of all sources of income, including gifts received in the preceding twelve months in the following categories:
    • Cash gifts valuing $100 or more from a person;
    • Non-cash gifts with an aggregated fair market value of $200 or more from a person; and
    • Gifts with an aggregated cash or fair market value of $3,000 or more from a grandparent, parent, spouse or domestic partner, child, or grandchild.

The biggest change with respect to the Code of Ethics applicable to the Executive Branch are changes to the gift rules, which are seen as a rebuke to the practices of Governor Christie. In Executive Order No.2, Governor Murphy tightened gift restrictions for himself and Lieutenant Governor Oliver.  All gifts received from individuals that are not “longtime personal friends” and are valued at over $390 must be disclosed.  This restriction applies retroactively to all gifts received from January 2015. Under the EO, a “long-time personal friend” is defined as an individual who has had an existing personal relationship with the Governor at least three years prior to the date on which he or she took office.

Upon signing Executive Order No. 2, Governor Murphy said, “This administration will have the back of every New Jersey resident and that begins with having a government they can trust.  Our principles are strong and, today, we have taken the first step toward a fairer New Jersey.”

Although the Executive Branch gift restrictions apply to those serving in the Executive Branch, the private sector should pay attention to these restrictions and make sure that they do not put an Executive Branch employee or public officer in a position of potentially violating the EO. For more information on Executive Order No. 2 and how various gift rules may impact your company’s interactions with the government, please contact Rebecca Moll Freed, Esq., Chair of the firm’s Corporate Political Activity Law Group at rfreed@genovaburns.com or 973-230-2075.

Deadline for New Jersey’s Annual Pay-to-Play Disclosure is Approaching: Is Your Company Ready to File?

After ELEC sent out its reminder email on March 6, we are reproducing below a Genova Burns LLC client alert that was distributed last week for any potential filers who may require additional information about the annual pay-to-play disclosure.

The New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (“ELEC”) requires each business entity that received payments of $50,000 or more (in the aggregate) as a result of government contracts during the 2016 calendar year to electronically file a Business Entity Annual Statement (“Form BE“) with ELEC no later than Thursday, March 30, 2017.

The obligation to file arises whenever payments from New Jersey government entities reach the $50,000 threshold. This includes contracts with the State of New Jersey Executive and Legislative branches, counties, municipalities, boards of education, fire districts, and independent authorities, regardless of method of award.

Additionally, detailed contract and contribution information must be disclosed whenever the business entity or a covered individual made a “reportable” contribution during 2016. A contribution is “reportable” when it exceeds $300 per reporting period. In light of these requirements, it is necessary to review personal political contributions made by a business entity’s partners, officers, and directors (and certain members of their families). Additionally, because of varying election cycles, it may be necessary to review contributions made over the course of several years to determine whether any 2016 contributions are reportable.

Companies that fail to file on time may be subject to monetary penalties. To ensure a timely and accurate filing, companies that have yet to begin preparing Form BE should not delay.

Genova Burns LLC can help your company comply with the Form BE filing requirements. Contact Rebecca Moll Freed, Esq., Chair of the Corporate Political Activity Law Group, at rfreed@genovaburns.com or 973-230-2075 or Avi D. Kelin, Esq. at akelin@genovaburns.com or 973-646-3267.