The state Republican Party (search) must repay a $100,000 illegal contribution from a national group — and the group must pay a $10,000 fine — under a consent agreement reached Wednesday with the state Elections Board.

The Republican State Leadership Committee — a group formed to help elect GOP state legislators, attorneys general and lieutenant governors — borrowed the money from Wachovia bank a day before setting up in North Carolina in October.

The organization then donated the cash to the N.C. Senatorial Trust (search), which works to elect Republican state sector of the state Elections Board, said that since the leadership committee borrowed the money before it set up the political action committee — and co-mingled corporate and individual contributions — the contribution to the state GOP was illegal.

"With this consent agreement, Republicans have admitted that they acted illegally," state Democratic Party chairman Jerry Meek (search) said in a statement.

The leadership committee did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Bill Peaslee (search), chief of staff for the state GOP, argued his group never broke the law.

"Essentially, we did as the state Board of Elections requested and none of the money which was sent to us was ever spent in support of any candidates once it became questionable," he said.

The fine likely would have been higher if the GOP had spent the money — up to $300,000, three times the amount of the donation, Bartlett said.