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Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians of North Carolina

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Four legislators and two unsuccessful candidates for the General Assembly must return thousands of dollars in campaign contributions made by the band. The state Board of Elections ordered return of the contributions last fall. The decision based on a 1998 finding by an election board official was that the 12,500-member Eastern Band is a business entity. State law forbids political contributions to candidates by businesses. Each of the individuals received $4,000. Sylva attorney Rep. Phil Haire said he did not remember being notified that such contributions were prohibited and added he disagreed with the election board's interpretation. 'We've done nothing illegal or immoral or something of that nature. We just have to turn around and refund the money. That happens all the time and it's not that much of an issue.'