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Dole Campaign, FEC at Odds on Funds

November 2, 2005

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ The Federal Election Commission says a fundraising committee for Sen. Elizabeth Dole should return $81,320 in unlawful corporate contributions from her 2002 campaign, but the committee insists a campaign worker should be responsible.

The worker, Earl Allen Haywood, pleaded guilty last year to mail fraud in a plea deal that requires him to make restitution. Prosecutors said he stole more than $174,000 from two Dole campaign committee accounts.

An FEC audit of the Dole North Carolina Victory Committee, a joint fundraising effort between Dole and the North Carolina Republican Party that Haywood helped manage, determined that it had deposited 31 checks received from corporations’ general funds. Such donations are unlawful.

An FEC review released Tuesday said the committee ``bears the responsibility for the return of the prohibited contributions.″ The auditors cited a lack of internal controls and oversight by the committee.

Dole’s campaign committee said Haywood is responsible for those contributions and should return them himself.

Attorneys for the FEC will review the audit to determine if there is reason to believe a campaign finance violation occurred, and the agency could impose civil penalties, commission spokesman Ian Stirton said.

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