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  • Press Release

Treffinger and Others to Pay $171,000 Civil Penalty for Excessive Contributions

April 25, 2006

FEC Home Page

For Immediate Release
April 25, 2006



Kelly Huff
Bob Biersack
Ian Stirton
George Smaragdis


Washington -- James Treffinger, his 2000 New Jersey U.S. Senatorial campaign committee, and his treasurer Robert A. Mathers, have agreed to pay civil penalties totaling $171,000 after an investigation by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) found violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act). 

Mr. Treffinger was a candidate in the 2000 Republican Senate primary election.  Prior to losing the primary, the Committee received $227,080 in contributions designated for the 2000 general election. Because Mr. Treffinger did not participate in the general election, the Committee was required to refund the general election contributions to the donors or obtain from the donors a redesignation to some other election within 60 days of the primary. 

Twice during 2002, the FEC provided the campaign and its treasurer with detailed information regarding these excessive contributions and notified them that the contributions must be refunded.  The Committee never sought redesignations and never refunded the contributions.

In May of 2003, Mr. Treffinger pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and mail fraud in connection with other conduct relating to his 2000 campaign and to his conduct while County Executive of Essex County, New Jersey.    Mr. Treffinger’s attorney requested an Advisory Opinion from the FEC about the use of campaign funds to pay for legal expenses related to these criminal charges.  On July 25, 2003, the FEC issued Advisory Opinion 2003-17 which notified the Committee that it had to meet any remaining refund obligations before it could pay any of Mr. Treffinger’s legal fees.  In spite of this instruction from the FEC, the campaign made payments totaling $115,394.92 to Mr. Treffinger’s attorneys in the criminal matter.

In Conciliation Agreements with the FEC, Mr. Treffinger, the Committee, and Mr. Mathers admit violating the law by accepting excessive contributions.  They are required by the Agreements to cease and desist from violating the Act.  The Committee is prohibited from using any funds received in the future for any purpose other than refunding the excessive contributions until all of the excessive contributions have been refunded.



MUR 5388


(a)   Jim Treffinger for Senate, Inc., Robert A. Mathers, in his official capacity as treasurer

(b)  James W. Treffinger

(c)   Robert A. Mathers, in his personal capacity

(d) Jay Hochberg


FEC Initiated (RAD)

Jay Hochberg


Excessive contributions


(a-c)  Conciliation Agreement: $171,000 civil penalty*

(d) Dismissed


Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at by entering 5388 under case number in the Enforcement Query System.  They are also available in the FEC’s Public Records Office at 999 E St. NW in Washington.



*There are four administrative stages to the FEC enforcement process:

1. Receipt of proper complaint

3. “Probable cause” stage

2. “Reason to believe” stage

4. Conciliation stage

It requires the votes of at least four of the six Commissioners to take any action. The FEC can close a case at any point after reviewing a complaint.  If a violation is found and conciliation cannot be reached, then the FEC can institute a civil court action against a respondent.                                                     

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