Former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig should personally have to pay a “significant” civil penalty of $70,000 for his “serious violations” of campaign finance laws, the Federal Election Commission argues in a recent court filing, in proceedings stemming from Craig’s use of campaign funds to pay legal fees after his 2007 Minnesota airport men’s room arrest. McClatchy News Service reports that FEC attorneys are calling for Craig’s campaign committee also to pay $70,000 in penalties, saying total penalties of $140,000 would have a “real deterrent impact” to keep other politicians from improperly tapping campaign funds for personal purposes.
Craig’s attorneys have argued that the then-senator was “engaged in official, Senate-sponsored travel” at the time of his arrest, when he was returning to Washington, D.C. from Idaho, so the use of the campaign funds wasn’t improper. An undercover officer said Craig solicited him for sex in a restroom that was being patrolled after reports of such encounters; Craig quietly pleaded guilty to a charge of misdemeanor disorderly conduct, but after news of the arrest and plea surfaced, began an unsuccessful legal fight to withdraw his plea, denied any sexual intentions in the incident and proclaimed that he’s not gay.
Amid extensive national publicity, Craig announced his intent to resign from the Senate, then changed his mind and served out his term, retiring in 2008 after a congressional career that began in 1980; he is now a political and regulatory consultant in Idaho and Washington, D.C. You can read McClatchy’s full report here.