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Republican Victory Committee Misled Donors, U.S. Agency Says

DALLAS (CN) - The Federal Election Commission charges the Republican Victory Committee and founder Jody Novacek with fraudulent misrepresentation for allegedly raising more than $75,000 in a 2004 telemarketing campaign by leading donors to believe the group was affiliated with the Republican Party and the Republican National Committee.

The commission says it first learned about the Irving, Texas-based group's actions in June 2004, when the RNC filed an administrative complaint to distance itself from the RVC.

The agency allegedly notified RVC and Novacek about the claim and asked it to stop any further violations. After attempts at "conference, conciliation and persuasion" failed, the commission filed a lawsuit in Federal Court, seeking an injunction against the defendants.

According to the complaint, Novacek made all financial arrangements through BPO and hired Apex CoVantage to help with the calls. "Novacek had told Apex that she was working for or was on retainer with the RNC and that she was in charge of its outgoing telemarketing," the lawsuit claims.

During a typical call, the commission says the caller asked if the recipient was a registered Republican. If yes, the recipient was allegedly asked to support "our state candidates and President Bush's agenda," because "it's going to be tough to beat the Democrats this fall." The caller explained, "Your financial help is critical so Republicans can win."

The RVC followed up calls with letters and return envelopes that were littered with statements that implicitly and explicitly referred to the Republican Party, the lawsuit claims. The allegedly misleading statements include:

- "Contributions or gifts to the Republican Party are not deductible as charitable contributions."

- "I'm grateful our Party can count on your help to support Republicans across the country win elections."

- "I am proud to help the Republican Party prepare for the November election."

Similarly, the commission says RVC and Novacek failed to distance themselves from the party over the phone, and even stated outright that they were working for the Party on at least one occasion.

The plaintiff wants RVC, Novacek and BPO to pay up to $11,000 for each willful violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act and up to $6,500 for each unknowing violation.

Plaintiff's lead attorney is Thomasenia Duncan.

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