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Complaint dismissed over Republican group's ads in attorney general's race

October 26, 2010 |  6:13 pm

The Fair Political Practices Commission on Tuesday dismissed a complaint by Democratic attorney general candidate Kamala Harris over a Republican organization’s attack ad against her opposition to the death penalty.

The ad was paid for by the Virginia-based Republican State Leadership Assn. and criticized Harris, the San Francisco district attorney, for deciding not to seek the death penalty against the killer of a San Francisco police officer in 2004.

An attorney for the Harris campaign argued that the television commercial falls within state laws regulating independent expenditure campaigns intended to influence political races and therefore requires major donors to be disclosed in the ad.

The Harris campaign also called on GOP rival Steve Cooley, the district attorney for Los Angeles County, to denounce the ad, which he refused to do.

Gary S. Winuk, chief of the FPPC’s enforcement division, sent a letter to Harris’ attorney stating that the complaint “did not contain sufficient evidence to allege a violation of the Political Reform Act."

Winuk added, however, that stricter state regulations for such independent advertising campaigns go into effect after the Nov. 2 election. Under those rules, the ad may have been a violation, he said.

The Republican State Leadership Committee is headed by Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican National Committee under President George W. Bush, and supports Republicans in state political contests throughout the country.

-- Phil Willon