Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) did not violate federal election laws when he took a $10,000 contribution from an Alexandria developer last year because the money was not used in Moran's congressional campaign, the Federal Election Commission has ruled.

Several Northern Virginia Republicans charged last year that Moran broke the law when he took $10,000 from developer Hubert Hoffman. Commissioners ruled Jan. 30 that "there is no reason to believe" the allegation, and Moran's office released the ruling last week.

Federal law limits individual contributions to $2,000 a candidate per election. Hoffman gave the money to a state-chartered political action committee Moran controlled, the Del Ray Democratic Club. Republicans charged that Moran improperly used money from the fund on his race, but the FEC found that the money was used to pay expenses he incurred as Alexandria mayor.

Moran refunded the money to Hoffman last July, seven months after he accepted it and one day after an inquiry from The Washington Post. Moran said then he was uncomfortable with the amount.

Yesterday, Moran said the commission ruling proved his contention that the Hoffman contribution was not improper.

"I'm pleased that the FEC got to the heart of the matter," Moran said. "I thought the opposition party was coming up with some pretty weak stuff during the campaign. Toward the end it was so piddly it got to be comical."

Anne R. Keast, Virginia's 8th District Republican chairman and one of those who filed the complaint, said yesterday she would "accept the FEC ruling," but was "a little surprised by it."

"We thought there were some valid concerns there," Keast said. "I would presume Representative Moran would be extremely cautious in his future dealings {with contributions}."

The commission based its decision in part on a letter submitted by Hoffman that appears to contradict statements he made last year to The Washington Post. Hoffman wrote on Sept. 7, "At no time did I ever send a check to the Jim Moran for Congress Committee."

Hoffman could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Commission lawyers concluded that money from the Del Ray Democratic Club was not involved in Moran's congressional race. Expenses from that fund "related to constituent services and/or activities undertaken in his capacity as mayor." Virginia law sets no limit on contributions to state-chartered political action committees.