Huffpost Politics

Larry Craig Hearing: Federal Judge Skeptical Of Former Senator's Use Of Campaign Funds

Posted: Updated:
Getty Images
Getty Images

WASHINGTON — A federal judge sounded skeptical Monday of former Sen. Larry Craig's claim that he properly used $217,000 in campaign funds for his legal defense after his arrest in a 2007 airport bathroom sex sting.

Craig contends that the airport bathroom trip fell under his official, duties as senator because he was traveling between Idaho and Washington for work, and therefore the legal fees could be paid for with campaign money. But at a hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that such a broad reading of official travel could be taken to extremes. What if a lawmaker was arrested in an airport for robbing a kiosk or consorting with a prostitute, she asked.

The Federal Election Commission sued Craig last year, arguing his legal problems had nothing to do with campaigning for federal office.

The Idaho Republican was arrested by an undercover police officer conducting a sting operation against men cruising for sex at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. An undercover officer said Craig tapped his feet and signaled under a stall divider that he wanted sex. Craig pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and paid a fine. After his arrest later became public, he tried unsuccessfully to reverse his conviction.

Jackson pointedly reminded Craig's lawyer, Andrew D. Herman, of his client's guilty plea.

"That had no connection to his duties, other than being in an airport," she said.

Jackson pointed out a letter Craig's lawyers wrote to the Senate Ethics Committee in 2007 describing Craig's arrest and conviction as "purely personal conduct unrelated to the performance of official Senate duties."

"I'm supposed to ignore that?" she asked.

The FEC allows campaign funds to be used for legal expenses that were caused by a candidate's campaign or officeholder's duties, and determines that on a case-by-case basis.

The FEC is seeking an order requiring Craig to return the money to his campaign, along with fines of up to $6,500 against Craig and his campaign treasurer, Kaye O'Riordan.

While Jackson seemed to be leaning against Craig on the campaign money, she questioned FEC lawyer Kevin Hancock about whether Craig should be forced to pay a fine.


Follow Fred Frommer on Twitter:

Also on HuffPost:

Political Sex Scandals
Share this
Current Slide

Suggest a correction

Around the Web

FEC v. Larry Craig hearing delayed | Suits & Sentences blog

Larry Craig News, Photos and Videos - ABC News

Office of U.S. Senator Larry Craig of Idaho - YouTube

Larry Craig: News & Videos about Larry Craig -

Judge skeptical of former Sen. Larry Craig's campaign cash spending

Federal judge to hear ex-Sen. Craig's suit on use of campaign funds for ...

In Larry Craig case, judge to examine campaign funds' use for legal fees

Ernest Hewett, Connecticut State Senator, Explains Aversion To Female Interns

Johnson set for second competency evaluation