Everybody loves to complain about the lack of bipartisanship. Imagine ... the two political parties working together to do important things. That's the way the system is supposed to work, right?
But these critics don't give New Jersey lawmakers enough credit. Bipartisanship rules in Trenton - particularly when it comes to campaign-finance restrictions.
Here, our elected officials are in almost unanimous agreement and act virtually in unison:
Both parties call for greater transparency in campaign contributions.
Both parties criticize the other party for blocking it.
And neither party, when it is in power and actually has a chance to clean up the campaign-finance morass, ever does much about it, leaving both parties perfectly content.
That's because neither party really wants to do anything to slow the flow of money into its campaign coffers or to force its contributors out of the shadows. They have a bipartisan agreement just to pretend to want it.
And now, with all the seats in the Legislature at play in November, and the Democrats currently in control, it's their turn to lead the pretending. Senate Democrats apparently are preparing a package of major campaign-finance reforms.
According to The Star-Ledger, the legislation would force nonprofit political advocacy groups that spend money on New Jersey campaigns to reveal their donors. It would require that donations of any amount be reported to the state Election Law Enforcement Commission - currently donations of $300 or less do not have to be reported. All donations and expenditures would have to be reported within 48 hours - a key reform. Currently, months go by before this information has to be reported, with some of it coming well after any election.
Regrettably, the Democrats reportedly also want to increase the maximum donation from any one individual or organization. The current limit is $2,600; raising it is movement in the wrong direction.
Also regrettably, the Democrats' new proposal does not address "wheeling," the process by which donations to one political committee are forwarded to another, often in another county, The Star-Ledger reported.
But none of this really matters. Because here is what is likely to happen:
The Democratic proposal will pass - with a poison pill (probably the increase on the maximum donation). This will give Gov. Chris Christie all the ammunition he needs to conditionally veto the measure.
Democrats will then campaign on the fact that they tried to reform campaign financing. Christie will counter that the Democrats presented him with imperfect legislation.
Both sides will win. And nothing will change.
Now that's bipartisanship - Jersey style.