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FEC Sues Larry Craig Over Use Of Campaign Funds For Sex Case Defense

You may recall former Idaho Senator Larry Craig, who was arrested after an incident in a bathroom in the Minneapolis airport in which he was apparently socliting sex from another man. Craig eventually left the Senate at the end of his then current term, but he’s back in the news thanks to a lawsuit filed today by the Federal Election Commission:

Federal campaign regulators brought the hammer down on disgraced former Sen. Larry Craig on Monday, accusing him of misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign cash to pay for his legal defense following an arrest in a Minneapolis airport bathroom sex sting.

The Federal Election Commission filed a federal lawsuit against Craig, who now works as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., asking a judge to order the former lawmaker to pay back his campaign committee more than $200,000 and stop him from raiding the committee for his own personal use.

Craig did not return a message left at his lobbying firm.

The case stems from the Idaho Republican’s embarrassing 2007 arrest by an undercover cop in a Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport bathroom stall. The cop said Craig made sexual advances toward him by tapping his feet under the stall divider.

The senator quietly pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct three months later. But after his case hit the media, Craig reversed himself and hired a team of attorneys to get his guilty plea thrown out.

On Monday, the FEC alleged that Craig used campaign donations from supporters as his own personal piggy bank to to try to reverse his plea. The commission said he paid $139,952 to the Washington, D.C. law firm of Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan and another $77,032 to the Minneapolis firm of Kelly & Jacobson.

You can read the Complaint [PDF] for yourself, but this seems like a pretty airtight case. What’s considered an acceptable expenditure under campaign finance laws has a generally broad definition, but it usually doesn’t include defending yourself from sex solicitation charges.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook