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Texas Congressman Fined $90,000 for Election Law Violation

September 7, 1995

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Rep. Charlie Wilson, the subject of the largest fine ever assessed by the Federal Election Commission against a House member, says any federal election law violations made by his campaign were honest mistakes.

The Wilson Committee, the Texas Democrat’s campaign committee, has paid $90,000 in fines to settle 15 election law violations found by the FEC, the agency said Wednesday.

``Based on the commission’s conclusion that no intentional wrongdoing occurred, the committee decided to accept the settlement rather than expend the resources that further FEC proceedings would have required,″ the 12-term lawmaker said in a statement Wednesday evening.

In fact, a 10-page conciliation agreement signed by attorneys for Wilson’s committee and the FEC states on the first page: ``The commission found reason to believe The Wilson Committee ... and its treasurer knowingly and willfully violated″ federal election law. ``The Wilson Committee has responded that it disagrees that there were any knowing and willful violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act.″

Among the election law violations cited by the FEC were that Wilson’s campaign committee failed to disclose four personal loans to him between 1988 and 1990 totaling $26,500.

The FEC also found that Wilson’s committee didn’t report some loan repayments, debts, disbursements and cash advances in violation of reporting requirements allowing the public to see how campaign monies are used.

Wilson said any infractions were inadvertent. He said he also loaned his campaign ``much more money″ than was involved in the FEC complaint. ``I personally repaid the committee fully well before the commission’s investigation commenced,″ he said.

Wilson’s campaign treasurer, Amy Trites, who along with the committee was named a respondent by the FEC, remains his congressional office manager.

The Hill, a congressional newspaper, reported Wednesday that an FEC general counsel’s report shows that when FBI agents informed Ms. Trites of the campaign violations, she said: ``You caught them all.″

Wilson press secretary Elaine Lang said the comment occurred after investigators briefed Trites on their findings and asked her to review campaign records to see if any other reporting errors were made.

``This is not a woman that would ever do anything that is dishonest,″ Lang said. ``She simply made some errors.″

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