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Calif., PACs Reach $1M Campaign-finance Settlement

a¿¿ $4 million that went to the Iowa-based California Future Fund for Free Markets Yes on Proposition 32 through the American Future Fund, which received the money from the Center to Protect Patient Rights. That money also was not reported to the state.

As part of the settlement, to be filed in Sacramento County Superior Court, ARL and the CPPL each agreed to pay a $500,000 fine.

Kirk Adams, a former Arizona lawmaker who is president of ARL, called the fine a vindication for his group after California's top Democratic officials last year made "outlandish claims of money laundering, criminal violations."

"The civil settlement with the FPPC has been reduced to an inadvertent violation that was made in good faith," he said.

The state's investigation began with the $11 million contribution last fall to a California group that was fighting Gov. Jerry Brown's November ballot initiative to raise taxes and supporting another one to limit the power of unions. Voters ultimately approved Brown's tax increase and rejected the limits on unions.

Just days before the election, the Fair Political Practices Commission and state Attorney General Kamala Harris sued Americans for Responsible Leadership, which had no history of political activity in California, to force it to disclose the donors, as required by California law.

The case went to the state Supreme Court just days before the election and one day before the election, the group disclosed it received the $11 million from a group called Americans for Job Security through an intermediary, the Center to Protect Patient Rights. Both are out-of-state, federally registered nonprofits.

Brown, a Democrat who appointed Ravel as chairwoman, said the settlement shows that major loopholes remain in campaign finance reporting laws.

"Secrecy and money don't mix well in a democracy," he said in a statement.

The Center to Protect Patient Rights said the state recognized as part of the settlement that the nonprofit did not intend to conceal any information from the public but that it erred "largely because it had never previously made any contributions" in California.

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