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Equity Crowdfunding Turns Six Months Old: Looking at Title III for Investors and Businesses

November 16, 2016 marked the six-month anniversary of Title III of the JOBS Act of 2012 being fully implemented. Title III and the rules promulgated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) allow businesses to raise capital through “equity crowdfunding.” This is the act of raising capital from others via the internet, by seeking small investments from a large number of potential investors through the use of licensed broker-dealers or internet funding portals. These investments are exempt from the traditional security registration requirements. People are generally familiar with existing “crowdfunding” platforms such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and GoFundMe which have been in existence since at least 2008. These platforms practice rewards-based crowdfunding.  Backers give a “campaign” money, and the backer gets back a “reward,” i.e., a thank you note or the first edition of a product. Title III, however, allows for “equity crowdfunding,” which is the ability to buy ownership in an early-stage company and hopefully reap a monetary return on that investment. Instead of getting that thank you note or new product, the investor is getting a piece of equity in the company he or she just invested in. Many industry professionals and...

New Jersey State Pay-to-Play Rules and Federal Elections

New Jersey has its own individual pay-to-play rules that do not apply to federal candidates regardless of the state office that the candidate holds. The two sets of New Jersey pay-to-play rules (“Pay to Play Rules”) of concern are: (i) New Jersey statutory rules for state contracts under N.J.S.A. 19:44A-20.13-20.25, and (ii) New Jersey regulations of the New Jersey State Investment Council (“SIC”) pursuant to N.J.A.C. 17:16-4.1 to 4.11. The New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (“ELEC”) and the New Jersey State Treasurer have stated that contributions to a federal account that are to be used only in federal elections will not trigger the New Jersey pay-to-play rules. See Advisory Opinion No. 03-2006; Letter of Bradley I. Abelow, New Jersey State Treasurer, June 23, 2006. The SIC regulations are applicable to political contributions and payments to political parties. See N.J.A.C. 17:16-4.2. Political contribution is defined as a contribution for the purpose of influencing any election for New Jersey state office, and under certain circumstances, any election for New Jersey local office. Since candidate committee for President is a candidate committee for a federal office, contributions to the committee are not political contributions. The SIC regulations define a “political party” as...