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VOL. 39 | NO. 3 | Friday, January 16, 2015

2 PACs fined by state election officials

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NASHVILLE (AP) — Two political action committees have been fined by Tennessee officials who say the organizations didn't properly disclose information including donors and expenditures before elections last year.

The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/1u9ItCh) reports Strong & Free Tennessee was fined $5,000 on Wednesday and Tennesseans for Preservation of Personal Privacy was fined $100.

According to the newspaper, representatives for both organizations did not return calls requesting comment.

Drew Rawlins, executive director for the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, said the $5,000 fine given to Strong & Free Tennessee was "pretty hefty" for a first-time offense.

The PAC faced was criticized by conservative Republicans, who accused the group of using GOP establishment money to defeat candidates affiliated with the tea party.

The PAC spent money to support Republican candidates running for state executive committees and in support of ballot measures to give lawmakers more power to enact abortion regulations and to change the process for selecting appellate judges.

Tennessee state executive committee member Mark Winslow, who filed a complaint against the PAC, called the amount too small to have an impact.

"Any group that goes to such lengths to conceal its donors, activities and intent will consider a $5,000 fine to be nothing more than the cost of doing business," he said. "Average Tennesseans who wish to be involved in the political process and can't financially compete with secretive PACs dumping thousands of dollars to buy influence are the losers in this ruling. The commission sided with wealthy interests over truthful politics."

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