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  • NJ A1292
  • Establishes bribery in official and political matters applies to person soliciting, accepting, or agreeing to accept benefit as consideration to act even though not yet in office or otherwise qualified to act.
In Committee
Crossed OverPassedSignedDead/Failed/Vetoed
2016-2017 Regular Session
This bill concerns the act of bribery in official and political matters. It establishes that a person would be guilty of such bribery if the person acted to solicit, accept, or agree to accept a benefit from another as consideration for taking future action, specifically on behalf of that benefit provider, even though the person had not yet assumed the public or political position needed or was not yet otherwise qualified to act. To clarify its application with respect to any candidates for elective public office, the bill expands the definition of "public servant," a term used periodically under existing bribery laws, to include not just current officeholders, but any person who is a candidate for public office as defined under subsection c. of section 3 of P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-3), whose activities are subject to regulatory oversight by the Election Law Enforcement Commission, and any person elected but who has not yet assumed office. Thus, for example, it would be a crime for a candidate for public office to seek out or accept a campaign contribution (the benefit) from an individual contributor as consideration to take future action, specifically on behalf of that contributor, as the officeholder to the position sought in the campaign. By focusing the act of bribery to a direct consideration between the candidate's solicitation, acceptance, or agreement to accept a campaign contribution and the individual contributor, the bill intends to not criminalize the public and general campaign speeches and promises that generate lawful campaign contributions in accordance with applicable State and federal law, such as "The New Jersey Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Reporting Act," P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-1 et seq.). To that end, the provisions of the bill include language stating that the crime of bribery in official and political matters is inapplicable to "any public or general campaign speech, advertisement, or other campaign activity used to generate lawful campaign contributions." The bill would make the above described form of bribery a crime of the second degree, which is punishable by a term of imprisonment of five to 10 years, a fine of up to $150,000, or both; however, if the benefit involved with the criminal act was valued at $200 or less, then the bribery would be a crime of the third degree, punishable by a term of imprisonment of three to five years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both. The bill, in part, is intended to respond to the recent dismissal of a criminal indictment against a New Jersey mayoral candidate in the case of U.S. v. Manzo, Civ. Action No.: 09-759 (JLL) (D.N.J. Feb. 17, 2012). According to the indictment, the candidate accepted cash payments in exchange for promising to expedite a local development project and promote an individual within the municipal government if the candidate became mayor. Id., slip op. at 8. While the federal court found the alleged conduct "reprehensible" and "deeply objectionable," Id., slip op. at 24, 39, it dismissed the indictment because the actions did not amount to criminal activity under New Jersey law. This bill would ensure that such future incidents involving persons seeking public or political office are punishable as criminal acts.
Introduced, Referred to Assembly Judiciary Committee  (on 1/27/2016)
Date Chamber Action Description
1/27/2016 A Introduced, Referred to Assembly Judiciary Committee
Date Motion Yea Nay Other
None specified