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    Ken Cuccinelli settles lawsuit against conservative PAC


    RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli has won a legal victory against a conservative political action committee he accused of duping political donors.

    Federal court papers filed last week show that Cuccinelli and the Arlington-based Conservative StrikeForce PAC reached a settlement that will prohibit the PAC from using a political candidate's name for future fundraising efforts against the candidate's wishes. The PAC also agreed to pay Cuccinelli's gubernatorial campaign $85,000 and give it exclusive rights to the PAC's direct mail and email donor lists.

    Cuccinelli did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did a lawyer for the PAC. Cuccinelli alleged in a lawsuit filed in September that the StrikeForce PAC "engaged in a national fundraising scam aimed at small donors supporting" his campaign.

    He asserted that the PAC raised $2.2 million in 2013, largely by promising donors the money would help Cuccinelli in his ultimately unsuccessful Virginia campaign against Democrat Terry McAuliffe. The PAC only gave Cuccinelli's campaign $10,000. The Cuccinelli-McAuliffe race drew intense national interest as the marquee matchup in an off-year election. McAuliffe won thanks in part to a large cash advantage over his rival.

    Campaign-finance records show that the StrikeForce PAC paid more than $170,000 in consulting fees in 2013 to a firm that lists StrikeForce PAC chairman Dennis Whitfield as a senior adviser. Cuccinelli's lawsuit describes the StrikeForce PAC as being "controlled by" the consulting group Strategic Campaign Group Inc., also based in Arlington.

    In its email solicitations, the StrikeForce PAC promised donors that money it gave would help the Cuccinelli campaign. One email tells donors that they are close to meeting their goal of raising $50,000 to support Cuccinelli.

    "Conservative StrikeForce has promised to raise $50,000 to support Ken Cuccinelli by tomorrow night," the email states. "Unfortunately, unless you make a generous contribution now, we will fall short of that goal. ... Now, we are in big trouble. We have only one day left, and we must raise $11,595."

    The StrikeForce PAC made no admission of wrongdoing as part of the settlement. StrikeForce PAC said in the settlement that it would continue to operate but will "cease and desist" using any candidate's name or image "upon receipt of a written request."


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