Six years after getting arrested for lewd conduct in a Minnesota airport bathroom, former Idaho Senator Larry Craig is being sued by the Federal Election Commission for using over $200,000 in campaign funds towards his legal defense. Craig says the expenditures were appropriate because he was on Senate business at the time.
Former Idaho Senator Larry Craig is back on the scene, six years after the fiasco that ended his political career.
Larry Craig was arrested in June 2007 on suspicion of lewd conduct at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. An undercover police officer was investigating complaints that an individual in the restroom was engaging in sexual behavior, and former Senator Craig was apprehended.
As a result of the incident, Craig pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in the case against him and initially announced that he would resign from the Senate. Days after his September 1, 2007, announcement that he planned to resign however, Larry Craig walked it back and ultimately served out the remainder of his term. Craig also tried (and failed) to reverse his guilty plea.
At the time Craig was trying to have his plea reversed, his lawyers presented a letter to the Senate Ethics Committee asserting that their client’s arrest and conviction resulted from “purely personal conduct unrelated to the performance of official Senate duties.”
The Federal Election Committee sued Craig for using over $216,000 in campaign funds in order to pay for his legal defense in the bathroom incident. But lawyers for the Idaho Republican are now saying that the expenditures were in fact a legitimate use of campaign money because at the time of the arrest, Craig was on official Senate business.
At a hearing on Monday, Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia took note of the apparent discrepancy. Referring to the 2007 letter, she asked, “I’m supposed to ignore that?”
Take a look at the Hardball Sideshow for more on Larry Craig, who seems to have adopted, as Chris puts it, a “wide stance” on his job description.