What Does the Future Hold for "Pay to Play"?

Paul Josephson
July 12, 2008 — 1,203 views  
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The far better view, in our experience, is to treat redevelopers (and government contractors for that matter) just like all other citizens, and allow them to fully participate in the political process.  The ballot box remains the best and most efficient regulator of the conduct of elected officials.  Allow redevelopers and their professionals to make contributions and to solicit funds, subject to the same limits and rules as every other concerned voter or business.  Require them to fully disclose their contributions during the redevelopment process.  Allow voters to decide whether an elected official deserves to be reelected after balancing the merits of the redevelopment plan, the official's position on the plan, and the contributions he or she received. 

Finally, any redevelopment or eminent domain reform that addresses pay to play must take heed of the mess and constitutional infirmity local pay to play variations have wrought in the field of public contracting.  Whatever the Legislature does, it ought to set down one rule, statewide, and force all towns to abide by that rule.

With the inconsistencies amongst localities, understanding the crucial elements of the local pay to play regime can be a baffling and frustrating process.  It is important to stay abreast of these various enactments and their diverse reporting requirements and contribution limitations.  You need not go at it alone.  Consult counsel well versed in all pay to play rules to help you.  They can advise you on particular regulations and assist you in navigating through pay to play to avoid disaster.  And should you find your project jeopardized by an inadvertent violation, counsel should be engaged to challenge these laws. 

In any event, it is plain that the days of making a large contribution to gain an elected official's support are over.  Redevelopers must adopt a multi-pronged strategy that includes public outreach and grassroots organizing to develop bona fide support for their efforts.  Today, it is crucial to retain a media and public affairs consultant to help you develop and deliver a message that will be key to success in the turbulent times ahead.

Paul Josephson

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Paul P. Josephson is a partner of Hill Wallack LLP. He is partner-in-charge of the firm's Regulatory & Government Affairs and Gaming Law Practice Groups. Mr. Josephson concentrates his practice in Regulatory Law, with a focus on Redevelopment, Gaming, Government Procurement, Complex Civil Litigation, Election and Campaign Finance, Government Ethics and corporate compliance issues. An accomplished commercial and administrative litigator, he has represented many national and state corporations in legal disputes and advised numerous State agencies on licensing, enforcement, procurement and real estate development and redevelopment matters. He is also experienced in all aspects of the gaming industry, including casino, horse racing, lottery and Internet issues. He has also published numerous articles on gaming and ethic law. He spearheaded the historic merger of the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway and the successful effort to fix EZ Pass. Mr. Josephson has also served as counsel to numerous Senate, House and Gubernatorial candidates, including Governor Jon S. Corzine, and has represented many of New Jersey's other top elected officials. Mr. Josephson was listed in the top tier of PoliticsNJ.com's list of most influential attorneys in New Jersey for 2002 and 2004, and recognized for distinguished legislative service by the New Jersey State Bar Association.