Firms with public contracts donated $9.4M to N.J. politicians in 2017. Who got the most?

Big election year, big campaign contributions from companies that do business with the state. 

Firms with public contracts with the state shelled out more than $9.4 million in political contributions last year, according to a new report released Monday.

That’s a 4 percent spike in political contributions over 2016. It’s not a surprise because the governor and every legislative race in the state were on the ballot in 2017.

The Election Law Enforcement Commission report showed the top five donors were engineering firms: Remington & Vernick Engineers, T&M Associates, Alaimo Group, Pennoni Associates and CME Associates.

Together, the five firms forked over nearly $1.9 million in political contributions.

The two biggest beneficiaries are the state’s top two most powerful officials, both Democrats. Srare Senate President Stephen Sweeney  topped the list, followed by Gov. Phil Murphy.

Sweeney, D-Gloucester, got about $180,000 for his heated re-election bid. The state’s largest teacher’s union, the New Jersey Education Association, spent millions in a failed attempt to oust him. 

Murphy, a Democrat, benefited the most out of the gubernatorial candidates. He received $114,000. His main rival, former Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, a Republican, got $65,000 from firms with public contracts, good enough for third on the list. 

Did the NJEA waste $5M trying to oust Sweeney?

“It is clear the 2017 context to replace Gov. Chris Christie after eight years in office and historic spending in the third legislative district created huge stakes for all contributions, including public contractors,” Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s executive director, said in a statement.

However, last year’s contributions were not the largest on record. In 2007, firms that held public contracts donated $16.4 million.

Why the drop from about a decade ago?

The larger trend has been that more money is being spent by super-PACs that don’t have to publicly report their contibutors, Brindle said.

Matt Arco may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewArco or Facebook.

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