Do Andy Kim and Tammy Murphy take money from PACs? Here’s how they compare

By | March 8, 2024

Despite a long-standing pledge to avoid donations from corporate political action committees, Rep. Andy Kim has received more than $300,000 from similar groups since he first ran for Congress in 2018.

Kim states on his campaign website that he “will refuse all money from corporate PACs” and that he has “committed to this commitment not to accept corporate PAC money.”

During his Senate run, Kim has received 71 donations — totaling $150,356 — from groups considered PACs. Of that, $84,500 comes from labor and business groups.

Congressman Andy Kim congratulates First Lady Tammy Murphy after the Bergen County Democratic Convention vote count, at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Hall, Local 164, Monday, March 4, 2024, in Paramus.  Murphy won with more than 60% of the vote.

Congressman Andy Kim congratulates First Lady Tammy Murphy after the Bergen County Democratic Convention votes are counted at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Hall, Local 164, Monday, March 4, 2024, in Paramus. Murphy won with more than 60% of the vote.

These groups are not necessarily the same as a corporate PAC, although both are considered traditional PACs, or groups controlled by corporate interests, according to Brendan Quinn of the Campaign Legal Center.

These PACs can receive up to $5,000 from individual donors per cycle and give up to $5,000 directly to candidates, and have been around since the 1940s, Quinn said.

A PAC typically represents business, labor, or ideological interests and must be registered with the federal government. Affiliated PACs are treated as one donor for contribution limits.

Among the groups that have given to Kim are the American Crystal Sugar Company PAC and the National Association of Realtors PAC.

First lady Tammy Murphymeanwhile, has received fewer than 10 donations from PACs totaling about $15,000. Murphy has been in politics for about four months, while Kim has served in Washington for seven years.

Understanding ‘Corporate PACs’

Sarah Bryner of OpenSecrets, a nonprofit that analyzes FEC filings, said her organization uses the business PAC designation for entities representing the business community, which is a “broad category,” while the FEC designation is self-reported and unsupervised stands.

“One big difference we see is that OpenSecrets classifies something like a trade association as a business interest, while the FEC classifies that as a trade association,” Bryner said. “It wouldn’t show up on any kind of corporate PAC lists, even if its interests are very much aligned with corporate interests.”

Bryner said almost anything can be classified as a special interest, but the difference some politicians try to articulate revolves around business interests having a bottom line and an interest in passing policy, which is different than someone joining a ideological group.

“I am somewhat skeptical about these kinds of commitments that people make. I think it’s good to raise awareness of the power of special interest and the potential of corruption, but this is a political statement that people are making,” Bryner said. “It is not a legalistic issue and it is not an issue that always makes it clear that they have no potential to be influenced by one donor over another.”

But groups like trade associations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is made up of businesses, also see financial implications based on the decisions made in Washington. That’s why Bryner said her organization views them as corporate PACs.

Bryner said candidates view PACs as “very reliable donors” that “tend to donate early and tend to give large amounts,” but that they also “tend to come knocking after an election.”

How did Kim react? What did Murphy say?

The Kim campaign referred a request for comment to End Citizens United. They didn’t explain why. End Citizens United did not respond. That organization aims to change the way money is involved in the political system and has led the way in the “no corporate PAC” movement.

Alex Altman, a spokesman for the Murphy campaign, said Kim “is being dishonest about campaign finance.”

“Kim has said he ‘will not be funded by corporations,’ even though he has taken over $300,000 from trade groups like the American Hospital Association, which are funded by – you guessed it – big corporations,” Altman said. “This is yet another example of Kim’s pattern of hypocritical behavior as a typical DC politician who tells voters what he thinks they want to hear.”

Bryner also noted that the “key difference” with corporate PAC money is that they also employ lobbyists and have a financial stake in policy outcomes. Lobbyists work as advocates to influence political decisions for the individuals or groups that hire them.

Both Kim and Murphy have also accepted money from lobbyists this cycle — more than $7,000 for the former, compared to more than $16,000 for the latter. Kim earned more than $38,000 during his six years in the House of Representatives.

However, neither candidate is running what would be considered a small donor campaign, Bryner said.

Kim gets about 81% of his funding – or $3.1 million of the $3.8 million he has raised – from major donors and Murphy gets almost 100% of hers – or $3.14 million of the 3, $19 million she has, which Bryner says is “a lot.”

A major donor is someone who gives a candidate a donation worth more than $200.

Monmouth Survey: Andy Kim beats Tammy Murphy in favor among Democrats

A heated primary for the Democratic Senate nomination

Both Kim and Murphy are vying for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Senator Bob Menendez. Although the primary is still three months away, the campaign season is heating up as Kim and Murphy battle for the coveted county ballot placement at party conventions across the state.

Congressman Andy Kim speaks to the press after losing the Bergen County Democratic Convention, Monday, March 4, 2024, in Paramus.  First Lady Tammy Murphy (not pictured) won with more than 60% of the vote.Congressman Andy Kim speaks to the press after losing the Bergen County Democratic Convention, Monday, March 4, 2024, in Paramus.  First Lady Tammy Murphy (not pictured) won with more than 60% of the vote.

Congressman Andy Kim speaks to the press after losing the Bergen County Democratic Convention, Monday, March 4, 2024, in Paramus. First Lady Tammy Murphy (not pictured) won with more than 60% of the vote.

Kim won in Monmouth, Hunterdon, Sussex and Warren counties, where an open convention with a secret ballot was used to determine voting positions. He also had the support of the provincial party in Sussex, although they have a block design on the ballot papers there.

Murphy has taken the line in Passaic and Union counties, where the former allows a private screening committee vote while the latter allows the party’s screening committee of municipal and county chairmen to vote publicly. She also won at the Bergen County open convention.

Tammy Murphy speaks with supporters outside the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Hall, Local 164, hosting the Bergen County Democratic Party Convention, Monday, March 4, 2024, in ParamusTammy Murphy speaks with supporters outside the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Hall, Local 164, hosting the Bergen County Democratic Party Convention, Monday, March 4, 2024, in Paramus

Tammy Murphy speaks with supporters outside the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Hall, Local 164, hosting the Bergen County Democratic Party Convention, Monday, March 4, 2024, in Paramus

Kim filed a lawsuit last month calling New Jersey’s ballot design unconstitutional and saying the design used in the other 49 states — a block style — should also be used here.

The hearing in this case will take place on March 18.

“The system provides such candidates with preferential voting status and presents them in a manner that encourages voters to select them even when they might not otherwise do so,” Kim’s filing said. “Their opponents, on the other hand, are often excluded from an opportunity for preferential ballot placement, displayed in a column by themselves or in a manner that is less attractive or more difficult for voters to find, separated by one or more empty ballot boxes from their opponents, stacked in a column with candidates for other positions with which they do not wish to be associated, and/or otherwise scattered haphazardly on the ballot.”

Kim, along with the two other candidates in the primary, Patricia Campos-Medina and Lawrence Hamm, have already called for the dismantling of the line system and the block system, which is used by every other state in the country, as well as two New Jersey to land. provinces, which must be implemented nationally.

In response to the lawsuit, a spokesperson for Murphy said: “Andy Kim has no problem with the county lines system, he has a problem with the idea of ​​losing county lines – as he very much wants to participate in the process when he wins, and he has benefited of the lines in every other election he has held.”

Ashley Balcerzak contributed to this report.

Katie Sobko covers the New Jersey Statehouse. Email: sobko@northjersey.com

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: NJ Senate primaries: Are Andy Kim and Tammy Murphy taking money from PACs

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