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Committee to aid GOP candidates returning some corporate donations

A committee established to support Republican-endorsed Chautauqua County Legislature candidates is returning some of the money donated by two corporations.

The announcement was made late Wednesday afternoon by Erin McTiernan, the coordinator for BetterChautauqua.com, the Web site for the Committee to Elect a Better Chautauqua.

Tuesday, members of the Democratic County Committee and Democratic ElectionS Commissioner Norm Green accused the Committee to Elect a Better Chautauqua of receiving the funds illegally.

McTiernan explained that before they received any donations, two members of the committee spoke directly to legal counsel from the state Board of Elections.

She said the lawyer told them the $10,000 contributions from Hope's Windows of Jamestown and POSI of Bonita Springs, Fla., were legal if no more than $1,000 went to a single candidate.

McTiernan said the decision to return some of the donations is in no way an admission of wrongdoing. "I could have made the decision to battle this out in court, with our lawyers against their lawyers, but we're not going to do that," McTiernan said. "The voters of Chautauqua County deserve more than that."

However, McTiernan's interpretation was questioned by County Democratic Chairman Keith Ahlstrom and Green. Both said they had been informed that corporate contributions cannot exceed $5,000 in any campaign cycle.

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