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Group Led By Justice's Wife Cited For Fundraising Violation

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) A Virginia-based conservative advocacy group led by the wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been raising money without first registering with state regulators as required by law, according to consumer protection officials.

The state Office of Consumer Affairs sent a letter Thursday to Virginia Thomas, president of Liberty Central Inc., informing her of the violation. J. Michael Wright, the office's manager of regulatory programs, said the group's lawyer told him Friday that the filing would be sent that day.

Liberty Central was founded in November but did not become active until last month, said Amy Feather, director of business development and marketing.

Wright said it is not unusual for new organizations to be unaware of the registration requirement, but Liberty Central said in a written statement that it was waiting for a letter from the Internal Revenue Service establishing its nonprofit status before beginning the state registration process. The group said it received the IRS letter Thursday.

In its letter to Thomas, the consumer affairs office said failure to register before soliciting contributions in Virginia is punishable by fines of up to $5,000 for each violation. However, Wright said it is customary for the office to work with organizations to get them to comply rather than seek sanctions.

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