It has been said that while reforms are often necessary and to the benefit of the public they sometimes have unintended consequences.
The Election Law Enforcement Commission's (ELEC) recent analysis of special interest PAC activity underscores this point. It showed that the level of special interest PAC activity involving New Jersey elections returned to late 1980's, early 1990's levels.
What's behind this? White Paper analyses published by the Commission over twenty years suggest that reforms enacted first in 1993 and again in 2005 have something to do with it.
From 1985 to 1989, for instance, a period of political party weakness, financial activity in legislative elections by PACs ranged from 18 percent to 20 percent.
There were a number of factors that contributed to the decline of once powerful party organizations, particularly at the county level.
Among the factors were: court decisions in the 1960's that apportioned legislative districts on a one-person-one-vote basis rather than county lines; increased suburbanization, decreasing voter turnout; and the Open Primary Law enacted in 1981.