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Mon, Nov. 18

Anti-Wal-Mart committee nearing agreement on fine

PRESCOTT VALLEY - A campaign committee that unsuccessfully challenged Wal-Mart at the polls has agreed to pay $7,500 to the town government without admitting that it violated state campaign disclosure laws.

The Protect Prescott Valley Committee, a union-sponsored organization, agreed to pay the amount instead of challenging a $10,000 fine at a hearing previously set for 1 p.m. today. The committee failed at the polls March 13 to keep a Wal-Mart supercenter from opening at Glassford Hill Road and Lakeshore Drive.

"The committee does not think it did anything wrong, but it just wants to get it resolved," said Andy Gordon, a Phoenix attorney representing the committee.

Gordon said Monday afternoon that he was drafting a consent agreement that he would present to Town Attorney Ivan Legler. He added that he expects parties to sign the agreement this week.

Noting that the committee had only $167.36 remaining in its coffers in early June, Gordon said, "It (the payment) will have to come from the committee. Somebody will have to make some contributions."

The $7,500 amount is similar in concept to the settlement that the Friends of Prescott Valley, Yes on 400 negotiated after Legler's office threatened it with a $30,000 fine for similar violations of campaign disclosure laws. Both committees accused each other of spending more than $10,000 without disclosing the matter within 24 hours to Town Clerk Diane Russell.

After agreeing to the settlement, Friends in turn accused Protect Prescott Valley of similar infractions, but on a smaller scale.

The Friends group raised considerably more money: $302,658, all but $25,000 coming from Wal-Mart, to try to influence voters on Proposition 400. Protect Prescott Valley reported receiving $11,400 from Local 99 of the United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents employees at Fry's and Safeway.

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