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Suit Over How Larry Craig Paid Legal Bills Heads To Court

US Senate

Idaho's former U.S. Senator Larry Craig heads back to federal court on Wednesday in a case related to his 2007 arrest for disorderly conduct in an airport men's room. This time, the question is over Craig's use of $200,000 in campaign funds to pay his legal bills. 

The Federal Election Commission says campaign contributions are only supposed to be used on ordinary expenses incurred on the job. And the FEC says Craig's arrest by an undercover cop who accused the senator of soliciting sex in a bathroom counts as personal.

But Craig argues that because he was en route to Washington D.C. at the time, the legal expenses arose in connection with official Senate business. He even argues in court filings that any costs relating to a Senator's use of a bathroom are covered under Senate reimbursement rules.

But Paul Seamus Ryan from the non-partisan Campaign Legal Center in Washington D.C. doesn't buy it.

“I think it's a ridiculous argument that should not be accepted by the court," he says. "I don't think you should be permitted to use campaign funds to pay for your criminal defense for any conduct you engage in.”

Ryan says Craig himself told the Senate Ethics Committee the incident was “purely personal.”

But the former senator's attorney says the FEC has allowed other members of Congress to use campaign funds for legal fees.

On the Web:

Complaint: FEC v Craig - US Courts