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Aug 9, 2010 9:20 PM by Alison Haynes

Feds rule in favor of Vitter, Barbour, Pickering

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Federal authorities say there's no reason to
believe Louisiana Sen. David Vitter's campaign violated the law by
accepting a contribution from a political action committee of
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.
Louisiana Democrats claimed the contribution from "Haley's
PAC" was really from former Mississippi U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering
and that it was illegally funneled through Barbour's PAC to avoid
publicity.
But the Federal Elections Commission, in a ruling made public
Monday, dismissed the complaint.
Democrats claimed Pickering, a former congressman whose
estranged wife had accused him of an extramarital affair, did not
want to publicly donate to Vitter, who was linked to a Washington,
D.C., prostitution ring in 2007.
The $5,000 PAC contribution to Vitter's campaign in August 2009
came the same week Pickering's committee gave one, the Democrats
said in their complaint. They also said that the Barbour committee
had made only one previous contribution that year, and that the
only activity by the PAC that month was to accept a donation from
Pickering's CHIP PAC and make one to Vitter.
Attorneys for the PACs said the contributions were legal and
that the Democrats' allegations were based on innuendo and
speculation. They cited Barbour's and Pickering's records of
contributing to Republican candidates.
In its release, the FEC noted that both of the contributions in
question were disclosed and that neither was "excessive or
prohibited."
Louisiana Democratic Party spokesman Kevin Franck said in an
e-mailed statement that the party was disappointed in the
dismissal,
"We continue to believe that the suspicious transactions
involving David Vitter's campaign committee warrant investigation
and we will carefully consider all legal avenues open to us to
encourage such an investigation including seeking judicial review
of the Commission's decision," Franck said.
Neither Pickering nor the Vitter campaign immediately responded
to requests for comment.
"Our response demonstrated convincingly that the allegations in
the complaint were groundless and had no basis in law or fact. We
applaud the FEC for promptly dismissing the complaint," said
Michael Toner, a Washington attorney who represents Haley's PAC.

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