In Schroeder v. County of Atlantic, dated April 2, 2015, the Law Division Court upheld an ordinance that limited the county’s ability to award a contract to any professional business entity that contributed more than $300 to “any campaign committee for any elective county office or to the current holders of any elective county office” within one year preceding the contract, and prohibited any such entity under contract with the county from contributing to “any campaign committee for any elective county office or to current holders of any elective county ‘office’ during the contract’s duration.”
At issue were contributions from an accounting firm to the Atlantic County Sheriff, who was running for state senate. The Court noted that the overall purpose of the ordinance was clear and that was to create transparency and public trust by prohibiting public contracts to any contractor who donated more than $300 to campaigns as set forth in the ordinance. The Law Division held that those contributions violated the ordinance and the firm was disqualified from eligibility for county contracts for four years.
As more and more scrutiny is given to campaign contributions, those companies and individuals looking for public contracts must educate themselves on appropriate levels of giving.