WASHINGTON (CN) – The Federal Election Commission claims in court that former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig converted more than $200,000 of campaign contributions to his personal use, to pay legal expenses after he was arrested in an airport rest room in Minnesota.
The FEC sued Craig, Craig for U.S. Senate, and the treasurer of Craig’s campaign committee, Kaye O’Riordan, in her official capacity, in Federal Court. It claims Craig and his co-defendants converted more than $200,000 for “legal expenses he incurred in connection with his arrest, guilty plea, and subsequent efforts to withdraw his guilty plea in Minnesota.”
The FEC seeks declaratory judgment that Craig broke the law, restitution of the converted money, and civil penalties.
Craig added the phrase “I take a wide stance” to the political lexicon after he was arrested in a rest room at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on June 11, 2007.
Craig, accused of nudging the foot of an undercover officer in the next stall, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct. When the arrest and its details made national news, he tried, unsuccessfully, to withdraw his plea.
The intimation that Craig may have made homosexual advances in a public rest room did not sit well with his right-wing Republican constituency. Craig served out his term and retired in January 2009.
According to the FEC complaint, the Craig Committee spent more than $480,000 on legal fees and expenses from July 9, 2007 through Oct. 5, 2008.
“Of this amount, the Sutherland law firm received at least $139,952 for providing legal services to Mr. Craig in connection with his efforts to withdraw his guilty plea,” the complaint states.
The Craig Committee paid the Kelly law firm another $77,032 for its efforts to withdraw the guilty plea, according to the complaint.
The FEC says it received a complaint that Craig and his co-defendants violated the law “by spending more than $213,000 in campaign funds to pay legal fees and expenses incurred in connection with his arrest and conviction,” and that Craig did indeed spend more than $200,000 for that.