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Justices decline to hear campaign finance case

By Lawrence Hurley and Jonathan Stempel

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court refused a request on Monday to consider widening its landmark 2010 decision loosening restrictions on campaign finance by corporations.

In a brief order, the court rejected the appeal of William Danielczyk and Eugene Biagi, two Virginia businessmen who were charged with criminally circumventing federal election laws through their support of the 2006 Senate and 2008 presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton.

The case touched on the Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allowed corporations to engage in political spending through independent campaign groups in candidate elections.

In the case the justices acted on Monday, the two men sought to enable direct financing of candidates by corporations. The court offered no explanation for its decision not to take the case.

The two men are accused of causing Galen Capital Group LLC and Galen Capital Corp, two investment banks where they were officers, to use corporate funds to reimburse dozens of employees for donations to Clinton's campaigns, including $156,400 for the 2008 campaign.

The case arose on appeal while the criminal case is still pending because the men are challenging one of the counts on the indictment.

The two men said the ban on direct campaign contributions by corporations violated the free-speech protections of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Last week, the court agreed to hear a separate campaign finance case on whether to lift caps on the total amount individuals may contribute to candidates and committees in federal elections over the two-year election cycle.

The case the court declined to hear on Monday is Danielczyk et al v. U.S., U.S. Supreme Court, No. 12-579.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley and Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Howard Goller and David Brunnstrom)

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