In Brief

Watchdog to examine financial benefit of gubernatorial hopeful Bill Spadea’s radio show

By: - June 21, 2024 7:06 am

Bill Spadea's bosses raised eyebrows when they said he would remain as host of a high-profile radio talk show — where he often speaks about politics and policy — while running for governor. (Photo by Hal Brown)

The state’s elections law watchdog plans to examine whether the radio show hosted by a Republican running for governor provides an indirect financial benefit to his campaign.

The push pits the state Election Law Enforcement Commission against the candidate, Bill Spadea, and New Jersey 101.5, the radio station where Spadea hosts a four-hour morning show each weekday.

Spadea announced Monday that he is seeking the GOP nod for governor in 2025, and almost immediately afterward, the radio station’s owner announced that Spadea would continue as an on-air personality for an unspecified period of time.

The news that Spadea would simultaneously run for governor while hosting a high-profile talk show where he often speaks about politics and policy led to grumbling from some of his opponents. It’s not clear whether the Election Law Enforcement Commission’s decision to look into the matter resulted from a complaint about Spadea’s campaign.

The commission said Thursday it will host a hearing June 28 on the matter.

Election law attorney Flavio Komuves said it’s rare for state election law officials to determine the value of a media company providing airtime to an employee who is seeking political office.

“I think there’s two questions: One is, is this an in-kind donation, and two, if it is, how should it be valued? And what other considerations apply given that this is a media company?” said Komuves.

In-kind donations are non-cash gifts to campaigns, usually in the form of goods and services. The legal limit for in-kind contributions is $5,800.

A campaign official for Spadea could not be reached for comment, while NJ 101.5 owner Townsquare Media did not respond to a request for comment. In a statement Monday, the media company said Spadea will remain on the air until “he becomes a legally qualified candidate” and that the company has put guidelines in place to make sure his show violates no election laws.

“We are sensitive to the legal parameters attendant keeping a broadcast personality on air while they are seeking public office,” the statement says.


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Sophie Nieto-Munoz
Sophie Nieto-Munoz

Sophie Nieto-Muñoz, a New Jersey native and former Trenton statehouse reporter for, shined a spotlight on the state’s crumbling unemployment system and won several awards for investigative reporting from the New Jersey Press Association. She was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists for her report on PetSmart's grooming practices, which was also recognized by the New York Press Club. Sophie speaks Spanish and is proud to connect to the Latinx community through her reporting. You can reach her at [email protected].

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