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FEC Fines Health Care Companies $128,000

The Federal Election Commission handed down stiff penalties on Thursday to two Florida health care companies for funneling illegal corporate contributions to the Senate campaign of Alex Penelas (D), a former Miami-Dade, Fla., mayor and 2004 primary candidate in the Sunshine State.

The agency fined CarePlus Health Plans Inc. and CAC-Florida Medical Centers LLC a combined $128,000 for using corporate employees, property and other banned corporate resources when company executives hosted a Penelas Senate fundraiser two cycles ago.

Heriberto Valdes, the chief operating officer of CAC-Florida Medical Centers, was also fined $5,500 “for allowing [CAC-Florida Medical Centers] to facilitate contributions to the Penelas Committee.”

“The FEC investigation found that Mr. Valdes … sent a coercive e-mail to administrators at the company’s patient care centers soliciting contributions for the Penelas Committee,” agency officials stated a release.

Thursday’s announcement marks the first six-figure fine the recently reconstituted commission has issued since reconvening earlier this summer.