Judge in Larry Craig case to examine campaign funds’ use for legal fees

A federal judge on Wednesday will hear arguments over the use of campaign funds as part of the fallout from former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig’s legal fight against his 2007 arrest in a Minneapolis men’s room.

Other politicians could have a stake in what U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson says about how campaign dollars may be spent.

The Federal Election Commission says that Craig improperly used more than $21,000 to pay attorneys following his arrest at a Minneapolis airport men’s room in June 2007.

An undercover police officer said he was sexually solicited in the men’s room by the then-U.S. senator. Craig ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct but denied any sexual intentions. Craig, who retired in 2008, used campaign funds to hire two law firms in a failed effort to withdraw the guilty plea.

Craig’s attorneys insist that he was on official business and therefore could use his campaign treasury, as other legally embattled lawmakers have done.

The oral arguments set for a Washington, D.C., courtroom will be the first face-to-face test for an FEC lawsuit filed against Craig last year.

The FEC concluded that Craig violated the federal law prohibiting conversion of campaign money to private use, and decided to file suit last May. (Idaho Statesman)

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