FEC sues Larry Craig over use of campaign funds for criminal defense

By David Ferguson
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 13:30 EDT
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Larry Craig via YouTube screen cap
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The Federal Elections Commission is suing former Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) over the senator’s alleged misuse of hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds, according to Talking Points Memo.  The disgraced Republican lawmaker-turned-lobbyist apparently used the cash to pay legal fees stemming from his notorious arrest in 2007 in a men’s room at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on charges that he solicited sex from an undercover police officer.

FEC lawyers Anthony Herman and David Kolker have filed a lawsuit (.pdf) asking a judge to order Craig to pay back more than $200,000 to his campaign committee and seeking “a permanent injunction against future similar violations.”

Craig was arrested on charges of lewd conduct on June 11 of 2007.  Undercover officer Sgt. Dave Karsnia reported that the senator engaged in a series of hand gestures and foot-tapping from an adjacent bathroom stall to signal that he was interested in performing oral sex on the officer.  Craig approached the crack of the stall’s outside door and displayed his wedding ring for the officer to see, a practice consistent with married men who are “cottaging,” i.e., seeking no-strings-attached sex with other men in public restrooms.

When the officer identified himself, Craig attempted a number of deflection strategies, claiming that his foot had merely brushed the officer’s because he has a “wide stance” when defecating.  He claimed that he had been misunderstood and gave the officer his business card, announcing that he was a U.S. senator and asking Karsnia, “What do you think about that?”

Craig was arrested and charged with lewd conduct, but ultimately pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, misdemeanor disorderly conduct.  It was when he attempted to reverse the plea that he purportedly began to dip into his campaign fund.

The FEC charges that Craig paid $139,952 to the Washington, D.C. law firm of Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan and $77,032 to the Minneapolis firm of Kelly & Jacobson.  “These legal costs were not made in connection with his campaign for federal office or for any ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in his connection with his duties as Senator,” reads the lawsuit.

Craig’s campaign treasurer, Kaye O’Riordan is also named in the suit, which can be read here (.pdf) and is made available via Courthouse News Service.

(image via YouTube screen grab)

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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