Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green must return $468,000 in campaign cash he had raised as a member of Congress, Wisconsin’s Election Board ruled Wednesday.

Acting on a complaint filed by the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, the election board said Green, who decided to give up his U.S. House seat after eight years to run for governor, cannot spend money received from political action committees, or PACs, not registered in Wisconsin. The board also argued he was $156,140 over the state limit of $485,000 in PAC donations.

But Green’s campaign manager said the money was already spent and would not have to be returned.

Board spokesman Kyle Richmond disagreed and said the campaign has to comply with the order to return the money in 10 days. If Green’s campaign doesn’t comply, the board will bring an enforcement action against the campaign, leading to a possible civil action in court, he said.

The board’s 5-2 vote resulted in cries of unfairness from Republicans, who noted that all four Democratic appointees on the board voted for it.

“This was an orchestrated campaign move by the Democrats to try to give advantage to Jim Doyle and it truly, truly was a very embarrassing move,” said Mark Graul, Green’s campaign manager.

Doyle, elected as Wisconsin governor in 2002, had about a $2 million advantage over Green in campaign funds as of June, according to state records.

“Congressman Green has been caught violating Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws,” Doyle campaign spokesman Anson Kaye said. “He should own up to it and then he should do exactly what the elections board has instructed him to do, which is get rid of this dirty money.”


On the Net:

Wisconsin Democracy Campaign:

Green Campaign:

Doyle Campaign:

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press