Newark. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Sheila McPherson is listed as a homemaker on an Internal Revenue Service report from the Democratic Governors Association. This year, Ms. McPherson donated $80,000 to the association, the first time, records show, that she gave to the national group. She also sent $10,000 to the New Jersey Democratic Committee.

Mrs. McPherson, who lists her residence in Rutherford, N.J., is married to Kenneth McPherson, a lawyer at a powerful firm, Waters, McPherson, McNeill.

Had her donations gone directly to Philip D. Murphy, the Democratic candidate for governor in New Jersey, it would have prevented her husband’s firm from getting any state contracts under a potential Murphy administration, the result of New Jersey’s strict pay-to-play laws. She also would have been able to give only $4,300 to Mr. Murphy directly.

Had she donated to any of the officials in counties where her husband’s firm has contracts, which total about $630,000, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, they too would have come under scrutiny for potential pay-to-play violations.