March 31, 2011- In 2008, Steve Lonegan, the New Jersey state director for David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity group, announced a campaign to run for governor. Running as a Republican, Lonegan lost to Chris Christie (R-NJ) in the Republican primary, and Christie went on to win the general election later in 2009. But recent tax disclosures examined by ThinkProgress reveal that Lonegan, who used $2.7 million in taxpayer matching funds for his gubernatorial campaign, may have deceived public officials in order to collect the public money used for his campaign.
According to New Jersey state clean election law, recipients of public campaign funds cannot be “involved in any way in the management of” a political advocacy 501(c)(4) organization “unless the organization agrees to disclose the name of each of its contributors and the amount of each contribution and expenditure.” Americans for Prosperity has never disclosed its donors. Lonegan, who has served as the New Jersey Americans for Prosperity executive director for years, said the disclosure law didn’t apply to him because he was paid by Americans for Prosperity’s educational 501(c)(3) foundation rather than its 501(c)(4) lobbying and advocacy branch. He told reporters that he was only paid by Americans for Prosperity’s educational foundation, not its lobbying branch. However, new information shows that Lonegan was in fact paid by Americans for Prosperity’s 501(c)(4) lobbying and advocacy branch and that he had significant managerial duties at Americans for Prosperity’s New Jersey Political Committee:
To avoid potential campaign conflicts, candidates who apply for matching money are required to tell the commission if they’ve previously managed issue-advocacy groups and list their donors and expenditures if they’ve recently run such a group. Lonegan said he is not subject to those reporting requirements because he was paid by the educational foundation of the anti-tax lobbying group, not its lobbying branch.
When Lonegan filed his request for public funds, he signed a certificate saying he was not “involved in any way in the management of an issue advocacy organization” for the period of 2005 to 2009.