CTNJ file photo

The State Elections Enforcement Commission has given out more than $30 million in campaign grants since May, but more than 60 people, including candidates for attorney general, comptroller, state representative, and state senator still haven’t qualified for the grant.

According to data from the SEEC website, 254 people have recieved campaign money under the Citizen’s Election Program, which provides campaign funding to candidates who raise a certain amount of money in small donations.

The commission will be handing out its last round of grants this Friday.

Kie Westby, a Republican running for attorney general, is one of the the candidates waiting for grant approval. He could not be reached for comment, but his campaign contribution disclosure forms showed that he had raised over $88,000 from individuals as of Oct. 5. His campaign is on the Oct. 16 meeting agenda and it’s possible he will qualify. If he does, he will have less than 19 days to spend $812,550.

Sharon McLaughlin, Republican candidate for comptroller, is another candidate waiting for a grant. Her contribution disclosures show she had raised $7,508 as of Sept. 30, but she needs to raise $75,000 in order to qualify for $812,550 in public funds.

Joshua Foley, a spokesman for the State Elections Enforcement Commission, said it’s normal for candidates to fail to qualify the first time they apply.

There’s no limit on the number of times a candidate can re-apply for a grant, but last Friday was the last day applications would be accepted. 

“Eventually, most people who apply will get a grant, but it’s also true that most people don’t receive a grant on the first try,” Foley said.

The most common reason a contribution is disqualified is for incomplete or incorrect paperwork from donors. Contributions from state contractors, businesses, foreign nationals, and amounts of more than $30 from donors under the age of 18 are examples of prohibited contributions. Candidates also have to raise a certain amount of money from people living inside the district where they’re running for office.

If a contribution is rejected by the SEEC, it is forfeited to the Citizen’s Election Fund, not returned to the donor. 

Last Wednesday, the commission awarded a total of almost $1 million to 19 more General Assembly candidates. They will award a final round of grants this Friday.

Typically, general election grant amounts are $27,850 for state representative candidates and $94,690 for state senate candidates.