Former Idaho Senator Larry Craig is defending himself from a lawsuit filed by the Federal Election Commission that he improperly used leftover money to spend on his legal defense after being accused of soliciting sex in an airport bathroom in 2007. Craig’s lawyer argues that the money was used as it should because “any cost relating to a senator’s use of the bathroom while on official travel” is reimbursed by the Senate anyway.
The FEC claims Craig misused $217,000 in campaign funds, claiming that money from his official Senate campaign account paid two separate law firms to defend him in the midst of his infamous scandal. However, his legal defense argues that it was not an improper use of funds.
Craig counters that money tied to his airport bathroom trip was for neither personal use nor his campaign, but fell under his official, reimbursable duties as senator because he was traveling between Idaho and the nation’s capital for work.
He cites a U.S. Senate rule in which reimbursable per diem expenses include all charges for meals, lodging, hotel fans, cleaning, pressing of clothing — and bathrooms.
“Not only was the trip itself constitutionally required, but Senate rules sanction reimbursement for any cost relating to a senator’s use of a bathroom while on official travel,” wrote Andrew Herman, Craig’s lawyer in Washington, D.C., in documents filed Thursday.
They pointed to a congressman who used his own campaign money in 2006 to defend himself against allegations of improper behavior during a tour of the Grand Canyon, and at the time the FCC ruled that his use of campaign money for his legal defense were “ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in connection with his duty as a House member.”
h/t CBS News
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