The Orange County district attorney's office announced Monday that it has dropped an investigation into allegations that the Irvine Co. laundered campaign contributions to two pro-growth candidates running for the Irvine City Council last June.
A spokesman for the office said no charges will be filed.
The investigation was opened last fall at the request of Irvine Co. officials. They told investigators that they had obtained information that possibly one or more of their consultants may have submitted bills to the Irvine Co. that were reimbursements for campaign contributions rather than for work they had performed.
Wallace J. Wade, head of special assignment sections for the district attorney, said the six-month-long investigation was terminated because of "insufficient legally competent evidence to sustain a conviction."
In a statement Monday, Thomas H. Nielsen, vice chairman of the Irvine Co., said the company was told by the district attorney's office that it had concluded the investigation and there was no evidence of wrongdoing.
"We cooperated willingly in this investigation from the outset. In fact, we had requested it. So we are very pleased with the district attorney's finding of no illegal action by our company. The outcome was as we expected it to be," he said.
The investigation centered around two small political contributions totaling $560 from an Irvine Co. subcontractor that allegedly were reimbursed later by Irvine Pacific Co., the home-building branch of the company.
The campaign contributions, according to sources, went to City Council candidates Tom Jones and Hal Maloney, both of whom were defeated in the June 3 election.
State campaign laws require that the true source of all campaign contributions be publicly reported. If a firm makes a contribution in its own name and later is reimbursed by another company, the true identity of the contributor is hidden. Such a practice is commonly called laundering.
Slow-growth proponents on the Irvine City Council, including Mayor Larry Agran, have contended that the Irvine Co. subtly raised money for candidates that supported the firm.
The company says it neither endorses City Council candidates nor gives money to their campaigns.
The city has an ordinance limiting contributions by any individual or company to a candidate in a single campaign to $283.