WASHINGTON -- The Senate campaign of Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) labeled as frivolous an ethics complaint against him that was based on a Huffington Post article, but his latest campaign finance filing seems to show he took it quite seriously.
The complaint, since tossed by the Office of Congressional Ethics, alleged that Cotton broke rules by appealing for campaign donations from a House office. It was based on a HuffPost article that noted Cotton made the money pitch in a radio interview in which host Hugh Hewitt said repeatedly that Cotton was on House grounds. The congressman's campaign said Hewitt was mistaken about Cotton's location, and ethics investigators apparently found no proof to the contrary.
Nevertheless, Cotton's latest filing with the Federal Election Commission shows he paid nearly $70,000 to the law firm Patton Boggs after the complaint was filed. Patton Boggs is one of Washington's top firms handling ethics complaints, and has been retained by Reps. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) and Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), both of whom face more serious complaints.
It's not entirely clear from Cotton's filing what the "legal consulting" was for, but the timing coincides with the complaint filed by the Democratic Party of Arkansas. The ethics office declared Dec. 4, 2013, that it was looking into the matter.
According to the FEC records, Cotton paid Patton Boggs $31,790 on Jan. 6. He paid $10,955 on Jan. 22, and $26,012 on Feb. 28, a day after the ethics office decided to drop the complaint.
That doesn't mean Cotton is clear of having to pay ethics lawyers. A former Arkansas judge has accused him of breaking rules by not disclosing his clients when he worked for consulting giant McKinsey & Co.
Cotton contends he has made all required disclosures.