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Ruling on political campaign funding appealed by federal prosecutors

McLEAN, Va. — Federal prosecutors on Thursday appealed a ruling that prompted howls of protest from campaign finance reform advocates when it declared the law that bans corporate contributions to federal candidates unconstitutional.

Prosecutors in Alexandria, Va., filed the appeal in a case against two northern Virginia residents accused of illegally funneling contributions to Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate and presidential campaigns.

Last month, U.S. District Judge James Cacheris tossed out part of the indictment against defendants William P. Daniel­czyk Jr. and Eugene R. Biagi, officers with a corporation called Galen Capital Group.

Cacheris said corporations such as Galen enjoy the same right to make contributions as individuals under last year's landmark Citizens United ruling from the Supreme Court. Cacheris reaffirmed his ruling earlier this month, though he emphasized that the law was only unconstitutional as applied in this case. Prosecutors have said Cacheris' ruling overturns a century's worth of campaign-finance law.

Danielczyk and Biagi, both of Oakton, Va., are accused of skirting the limits on campaign contributions by using corporate funds to reimburse Galen employees for donations they made to attend fundraisers that Danielczyk hosted for the Clinton campaigns.

Cacheris allowed charges that Danielczyk and Biagi made contributions in other people's names to go forward, but he tossed out the part of the indictment alleging a violation of the ban on corporate contributions.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride, would not comment Thursday except to confirm that the appeal was filed. Todd Richman, a federal public defender representing Biagi, did not return a call Thursday seeking comment.

Critics said Cacheris overstepped his authority and misread Citizens United. Cacheris ordered both sides to prepare additional briefs so that he could reconsider his decision, but he ultimately left his initial ruling in place.

Ruling on political campaign funding appealed by federal prosecutors 06/16/11 [Last modified: Thursday, June 16, 2011 10:20pm]
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