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Report: FEC fines Sharpton $285,000

WASHINGTON, April 19 (UPI) -- The Rev. Al Sharpton has been fined $285,000 for violating federal election rules during his 2004 Democratic campaign for U.S. president, records indicate.

A Federal Elections Commission report obtained by the New York Post contends Sharpton accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from private sources, commingled campaign funds with those of his civil rights group, National Action Network, and kept poor records.

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The newspaper said Sharpton and former campaign manager Andrew River signed an agreement with the FEC this month to pay the fine, which was triggered by a complaint from the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative watchdog group.

"We are pleased that the FEC has ruled on our complaint and found that Sharpton ran an off-the-books presidential campaign," the group's chairman, Ken Boehm, told the Post.

A statement from Sharpton's camp accused the Post of engaging in a "rush to smear" Sharpton, pointing out that "the settlement makes clear that there is no evidence of criminality or intentional wrongdoing by National Action Network, Sharpton or his campaign."

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