SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Mercury News asked the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce for reimbursement Friday of a $35 contribution inadvertently made to the business group's political action committee.

David J. Butler, editor of the Mercury News, said a staffer filling out the paper's chamber of commerce membership renewal erroneously checked a box that authorized a $35 donation to the chamber PAC.

"Clearly it's improper for a newspaper to contribute to a political action committee," Butler said. "This situation arose from an innocent error by clerical staff, and we're taking steps to make sure it doesn't happen again."

The contribution came to light in campaign finance disclosure reports that the chamber PAC filed this week as an independent expenditure committee. The reports listed the newspaper as a campaign contributor -- through the chamber of commerce as an "intermediary" -- to spending on behalf of chamber-endorsed candidates including Don Gagliardi, Van Le and Charles "Chappie" Jones.

The campaign reports do not require the chamber PAC to identify contributors of amounts less than $100. But Chamber President Matthew Mahood said a staffer listed all the contributors to the PAC regardless of contribution amount. Mahood said the chamber would reimburse the paper for the PAC contribution.

Contact John Woolfolk at 408-975-9346. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/johnwoolfolk1.