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Wooing Katherine Harris proves pricey

The Federal Election Commission today announced the 2nd largest fine in its history - $1 million - against a defense contractor who wined and dined former Rep. Katherine Harris.

DC-based watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, says the fine was a result of the group's complaint against contractor Mitchell Wade and his company, MZM.

Crew filed the complaint with the FEC in June 2005, alleging that MZM and Wade violated federal campaign finance laws. The complaint was based on an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune that alleged that Wade had used corporate dollars to reimburse employees for contributions made to members of Congress whom Wade believed could be helpful to him.

The agreement with the FEC has Wade admitting that MZM made corporate contributions to the campaigns of Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va., and Harris, and agreeing to pay $1 million to settle the matter.

The commission notes in a press release that it found "no evidence that either Goode for Congress or Friends of Katherine Harris" knew that contributions were illegal and that both politicians have "either refunded or disgorged all MZM-related contributions."

Said CREW executive director Melanie Sloan, "a fine of this magnitude should serve as a warning to all political donors that violating federal campaign finance laws has serious consequences."

Read the full story here and the FEC release on the matter here: