FEC wants $357K from former foot-tapping Senator
posted at 4:01 pm on October 7, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
The Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport finds itself in the news twice today, although this story’s a little more indirect than the one about a 9-year-old outfoxing MSP security for a trip to Sin City. The Federal Elections Commission wants former Senator Larry Craig to reimburse his campaign for $217,000 used to pay lawyers not for campaign-related issues but to defend himself against charges arising from allegedly importuning an undercover officer in an MSP bathroom. They also want an additional $140,000 in fines:
Federal election regulators want former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig to pay $140,000 in fines and return nearly $217,000 to his campaign, arguing he misused the money to fund his legal defense after his 2007 arrest in an airport bathroom sex sting.
The Federal Election Commission proposed the penalties this week in filings to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, D.C. In March, Jackson refused to dismiss the FEC’s lawsuit against Craig alleging he illegally tapped campaign funds.
So far, Craig has refused — claiming that his travel through MSP was on official business, and therefore a legitimate campaign expense:
The Idaho Republican has been fighting the FEC’s demands for more than a year, arguing his stop at the airport bathroom in Minneapolis fell under his official duties as a senator because he was traveling between Idaho and Washington for work, and therefore the legal fees could be paid with campaign cash.
The FEC doesn’t see it that way. In fact, they see it as fraud:
The FEC argues Craig unjustly enriched himself by siphoning money from his campaign, rather than his personal bank accounts, to pay for lawyers in the case. Misusing campaign money for an illegitimate purpose is not unlike fraud, commission lawyers wrote, adding Craig’s actions “undermine confidence in government.”
Maybe this is the wrong week to make that argument.