Under the reforms, adopted on Aug. 19, the maximum amount a business is allowed to contribute to campaigns increased to $2,600 from $300. Moorestown party committees and political action committees (PACs) would have been able to receive $7,200, up from $300 and $500, respectively.
Businesses also would have to disclose exactly how much money they contribute to campaigns.
However, the passage of the reforms sparked a backlash throughout the township—including a petition drive organized by Democratic Party chairman Robert Gorman and volunteer (and former Democratic council candidate) Mark Hines—resulting in the decision to scale back the reforms.
“I was getting calls from people saying there was a lot of misinformation about the issue and that things were being misconstrued,” said Jordan, who previously stated the reforms were passed in the name of transparency, and to bring the township in line with bipartisan pay-to-play measures the Legislature is currently considering. “I wanted to make things simple, but things became more confusing.”
So on Monday, Jordan opened the meeting by asking council members to repeal the reforms, and return the ordinance governing political campaign contributions to the status quo prior to Aug. 19.
From there, council would reconsider the ordinance as it stood.
“I would like to see us as a council send a letter to the Legislature,” Jordan said. “Each municipality has its own rules. Everything should be uniform. This is something we need to figure out.”
Democratic Councilman Greg Newcomer, the lone voice of dissent on council regarding the pay-to-play changes, proposed the idea of non-partisan government, including non-partisan elections.
“The way it is now, we have competing marketing campaigns,” Newcomer said. “We would be well-served to have a non-partisan government. More people would be involved, and this discussion we’ve had over the last month brought me to this conclusion.”
Gorman said the decision to ask council to repeal the changes is a “victory for the people.”
According to Gorman, his group collected nearly 1,400 signatures asking council to repeal the reforms or put the changes up for a vote in November’s election.
“The process was a success,” Gorman said. “The citizens spoke and the end result was good. We had signatures from both parties and from all walks of life. They all came together and delivered for the town.”
Council will reconsider the reforms at its Sept. 23 meeting.