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TRENTON, NJ-Pay-to-play and its implications have been in the sights of reformers relating to government in New Jersey in general recently, but one group is focusing specifically on urban and suburban redevelopment. The Citizens Campaign, the lobbying arm of the Metuchen, NJ-based Center for Civic Responsibility, has offered up a proposal to curtail such activity within the development community.

The proposal, which hasn’t been fully drafted, and which has no legislative sponsors as yet, is two-tiered. On the state level, developers would be barred from making any political contributions throughout the process of any redevelopment project in they’re involved in. They would also have to file contribution disclosure forms in instances where they’re seeking variances or waivers from regulations. The proposal also calls for heightened public notice requirements and for restricting eminent domain. Citizens Campaign officials would not comment on formal introduction of their proposal in the state legislature, or possible sponsors in the state senate or assembly.

On the local level, the Citizens Campaign proposal would similarly ban campaign contributions, in this case specifically to local elected officials. It would also require disclosure of previous campaign contributions.

“The goal is to make sure that citizens don’t get the impression of dealmaking surrounding issues and projects that affect the future of their community, their property taxes and their quality of life,” according to Harry Pozycki, chairman of the Citizens Campaign, speaking at a press conference here to introduce the proposal. Pozycki is also the former head of Common Cause of New Jersey.

“This proposal is designed to recapture the redevelopment process at the local level and to remove the influence of political contributions,” Pozycki continued. “People need to know that major decisions by government officials aren’t being influenced by political money. With campaign contributions, you have the potential for corruption.”

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