By Amanda Becker
Roll Call Staff
May 10, 2012, 6:23 p.m.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s re-election campaign can’t approach donors who already contributed the maximum amount permitted by law in order to replace roughly $4.5 million that was siphoned from its accounts in an embezzlement scheme — at least for the time being.

The Federal Election Commission today failed to approve either of two draft proposals that it had circulated on the matter. Commissioners asked their general counsel to come up with a new draft that covers the areas of consensus between the two groups.

Lawyers for the Feinstein for Senate campaign had argued before the commission last month that barring the California Democrat’s constituents from writing new checks would trample on their rights because their original contributions were not used for their intended purposes.

“Donors have a constitutional right to associate with and support a candidate of their choice. … That right has [currently] been extinguished by a criminal act of the treasurer,” attorney Marc Elias of Perkins Coie told the commissioners during an April meeting.

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