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Posts tagged: Larry Craig

Court orders former Sen. Craig to pay $242K for tapping campaign funds for sex-sting defense

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig has been ordered to pay $242,535 to the U.S. Treasury for improperly using campaign funds to cover legal expenses incurred after his arrest in a 2007 airport bathroom sex sting. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled Tuesday that Craig illegally converted campaign money as personal expenses while attempting to withdraw his guilty plea to one count of disorderly conduct. Jackson found that Craig's effort was personal and not connected to his duties representing Idahoans in Congress. Craig, meanwhile, argued that Senate rules allow reimbursements for any official travel costs. He says he was traveling between Idaho and Washington D.C. for work. However, the Federal Election Commission countered saying Craig violated campaign laws when he relied on donor dollars to cover his legal expenses.

You can read the judge's decision here, which runs 41 pages. In it, Berman Jackson writes that the sum Craig must pay consists of the “amount he was unjustly enriched” by tapping the campaign funds, $197,535, plus a court-imposed $45,000 penalty, “which the Court finds necessary and appropriate to punish defendants’ misconduct and to deter future misconduct by others.”

FEC: Craig ignored warnings, spent money illegally

Federal Election Commission lawyers urged a federal judge not to heed former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig's contention that regulators are being too hard on him — and to force him to pay nearly $360,000 in fines and restitution for tapping campaign accounts for his legal defense following his 2007 arrest in an airport bathroom sex sting, the AP reports. The FEC says the Idaho Republican ignored the U.S. Senate's own warnings not to spend the money. Craig also has acknowledged the campaign didn't seek out FEC guidance on whether he should spend the money or not because he was worried it would tell him not to do it, the commission's lawyers wrote; click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Former Sen. Craig argues proposed FEC penalties are ‘harsh’ and ‘unjustified’

Former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig is protesting the FEC's proposed $360,000 in fines and restitution for tapping campaign accounts for his legal defense following his 2007 arrest in an airport bathroom sex sting, calling the penalties “harsh” and “unjustified,” the AP reports. Craig also argues that he doesn't have the financial resources to pay, and that he and his lawyers acted in good faith, having genuinely thought using the campaign money was appropriate because they concluded other lawmakers had done it in the past. Craig also disputed that the hefty fine would deter other lawmakers from acting as he did. “Any deterrent effect has already been achieved,” wrote his lawyer, Andrew Herman. “The professional and personal consequences of Senator Craig's guilty plea have been severe … To argue that without a harsh penalty a party might want to duplicate this experience ignores these costs.” Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

 

Craig gets more time to fight FEC fines in bathroom arrest case

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Ex-U.S. Sen. Larry Craig won more time to file court paperwork as he fights federal election regulators who contend he misused campaign funds to defend himself following his 2007 arrest in an airport bathroom sex sting. A judge in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., Thursday gave Craig until Nov. 13 to file documents opposing the Federal Election Commission's proposal he be forced to pay $140,000 in fines and return $217,000 to his campaign accounts. Previously, Craig's documents were due by Wednesday. Craig contends it was legal to divert hundreds of thousands of dollars from his campaign supporters to support his legal defense in the 2007 case. He claims it was part of official business when he was arrested while traveling from Idaho to his Senate job in Washington, D.C.

Craig wants more time to fight FEC fines

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig says he needs more time in his bid to fight off demands by federal election regulators he pay $140,000 in fines and return $217,000 to his campaign that he'd used for his legal defense after his 2007 arrest in an airport bathroom sex sting. Craig filed the documents late Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. Ordinarily, the Idaho Republican would have until just the end of this month to formally oppose the Federal Election Commission's proposed penalties against him for allegedly misusing campaign cash. Now, however, Craig is asking U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson for another two weeks to file paperwork he hopes will help him avoid stiff financial penalties. In Tuesday's filing, Craig says the FEC doesn't object to the delay.

FEC calls for former Sen. Craig to pay ‘significant’ penalty for misuse of campaign funds

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.

Former Sen. Craig slated as commencement speaker

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — Former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig is scheduled to speak Thursday at commencement ceremonies for graduates at a University of Idaho satellite campus in Idaho Falls in southeastern Idaho. The Post Register reports (http://bit.ly/17pp3iP) that 73 degrees will be awarded from the University Place campus Thursday, and that nine will be doctoral degrees. Craig is scheduled to speak about his political career that ended in 2009 when he left office following a sex scandal. The Idaho Republican and UI graduate was arrested by an undercover police officer conducting a sting operation against men cruising for sex at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Craig pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and paid a fine. After his arrest later became public, he tried unsuccessfully to reverse his conviction.

Fed judge rejects former Sen. Craig’s official duties argument

A federal judge today refused to dismiss a Federal Election Commission lawsuit against former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig for using $217,000 in campaign funds for his legal defense after his arrest in a 2007 airport bathroom sex sting, the Associated Press reports. Craig had argued the use of the funds was appropriate because the incident occurred in the course of his official duties, but U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson found that the charge against Craig didn't relate “to his conduct as a legislator, but only actions undertaken in the privacy and anonymity of a restroom stall.” The judge set a scheduling conference in the case for April 26; click below for a full report from AP reporter Frederic J. Frommer in Washington, D.C.

Fed judge to consider whether then-Sen. Craig was on official business during ‘07 airport restroom arrest

The question of whether then-Idaho Sen. Larry Craig was on official business when he was arrested in a Minneapolis airport men's room in 2007 will be taken up by a federal judge this week, McClatchy Newspapers reporter Michael Doyle reports, in a case with far-reaching implications about how campaign dollars can be spent. Craig spent more than $216,000 in campaign funds to pay attorneys, after being charged with disorderly conduct; his attorneys insist he was on official business and so could tap his campaign treasury. Click below for Doyle's full report, via McClathy and the AP.

Former Sen. Larry Craig: Nuke agreement, like Constitution, may need changes over time

Former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig is among those addressing lawmakers on the House Environment and Senate Resources committees  in the Capitol Auditorium  this afternoon, as part of a presentation on nuclear energy in Idaho, past and future. Craig offered “a bit of a historic perspective,” saying, “Gov. Andrus saw the problem and took action. Gov. Batt was elected, he was faced with a responsibility to deal with the issue that he was handed when he was elected governor. I was then the U.S. senator, I got a call from our governor saying, ‘Larry, what do we do?’ I assembled the DOE people and the governor and the attorney general came, and the discussion began that ultimately crafted the agreement, unique to all the states in the nation.”

Craig noted that the agreement, which is best known as the Batt Agreement or the nuclear waste settlement agreement, was endorsed by Idaho voters. “Those who embrace the agreement today, and that’s all of us, amongst them were once its enemies and its critics,” he said.

Still, he said, ”There may be some need for change in the future, depending on mission and dynamics and understanding.” Craig compared the waste agreement to the U.S. Constitution. “It’s been changed 27 times over 200 years to fit the changing needs of a changing nation,” he said. “We may want to do that with this agreement in the future to meet the mission of the laboratory.”

Gov. Butch Otter and state Commerce Director Jeff Sayer also are among those addressing lawmakers at this afternoon’s session; you can watch live here. Otter applauded the work of his Leadership in Nuclear Energy (LINE) Commission, in its newly issued review of the Idaho National Laboratory in eastern Idaho and nuclear-related activities in the state. “I concur wholeheartedly with the commission’s assessment that the Idaho National Laboratory is a significant state asset,” Otter said. “The state of Idaho should take immediate and long-term steps to enhance the future of the nation’s lead nuclear research and development laboratory that is responsible for over 24,000 jobs and has an annual economic impact on Idaho of more than $3.5 billion.” Click below for more from Otter in his full news release.

Former Sen. Craig argues Minn. airport bathroom visit was official Senate business

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― Former Republican U.S. Sen. Larry Craig aims to scuttle federal campaign charges against him by arguing his infamous July 11, 2007 Minneapolis airport bathroom visit that ended in his sex-sting arrest was part of his official Senate business. He's hoping to avoid repaying $217,000 in campaign funds the Federal Election Commission claims that Craig misused to defend himself. Craig was sued in June by regulators, on grounds the campaign money was converted to personal use because Craig's defense in Minnesota had no connection to his campaign for federal office. Instead, Craig's lawyer argues in U.S. District Court this week that his Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport bathroom visit fell under his official duties. He cites a U.S. Senate rule in which reimbursable per diem expenses include meals, lodging ― and baths. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

FEC sues Larry Craig over using campaign cash for legal defense in restroom sting case

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― Former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig was sued by federal election regulators contending he misused some $217,000 in campaign funds for his legal defense against charges stemming from a 2007 Minnesota airport bathroom sex sting. Federal Election Commission officials said in Monday's complaint in U.S. District Court that the Idaho Republican should repay the money. The FEC contends Craig's campaign paid $139,952 to Sutherland, Asbill and Brennan in Washington, D.C., and $77,032 to Kelly & Jacobson in Minnesota for legal services related to his guilty plea. The FEC said the money was converted to personal use because his defense wasn't related to his campaign. The commission is also seeking penalties of up to $6,500 from Craig and his treasurer. A call to Craig's lobbying firm, New West Strategies in Washington, D.C., wasn't returned. You can read the complaint against Craig here; click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

NYU/GWU study: Idaho’s digital edge in U.S. Senate slips to ‘challenged’ and ‘feeble’

There was a time when then-Idaho Sen. Larry Craig was dubbed the “cybersenator” because he was the first U.S. senator to send out podcasts. Now, it seems, our digital edge in the U.S. Senate has slipped. George Washington University and New York University’s Stern School of Business have completed a joint study that evaluated and ranked every senator for what it dubbed their “digital I.Q.,” or “online competence” based on presence on websites, social media following and sentiment, digital marketing aptitude and search engine optimization skills. Idaho’s results? Sen. Mike Crapo ranked 64th among the 100 senators, and Sen. Jim Risch ranked 93rd.

The top seven senators were dubbed “digital geniuses,” and were led by none other than Sen. John McCain, who famously said “I don’t email” during the 2008 presidential campaign. According to the study, he got his first Blackberry in January 2009 and “took to the Twittersphere,” and he now has 1.7 million Twitter followers and 630,000 Facebook “likes.” The other senators who got the “digital genius” designation were Sens. Jim DeMint, Scott Brown, Al Franken, John Cornyn, Harry Reid and Barbara Boxer. Republicans led Democrats in the study, with an average digital I.Q. 5.5 percent higher than their colleagues across the aisle. “Our thesis is that digital competence provides an opportunity for senators to authentically engage and mobilize voters and constituents,” wrote the two authors of the study, Scott Galloway, clinical associate professor of marketing at NYU Stern, and Doug Guthrie, dean of the George Washington School of Business.

So what’s the designation for our guys? Crapo’s score of 89 (McCain’s was 156) designates his digital I.Q. as “challenged.” And Risch? At a score of 68, he’s dubbed “feeble.”

Two Idaho counties hire Craig’s new firm to lobby for prison

Former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig’s new consulting firm, New West Strategies, has been hired by Cassia and Minidoka counties to help Cassia County land a $300 million federal prison. The Twin Falls Times-News reports that both counties’ commissioners agreed Monday to pay Craig’s firm a monthly fee of $5,000 plus a $500 monthly travel budget. The city of Burley also plans to chip in for the contract. Craig, who retired from the Senate amid scandal after he was cited in a Minneapolis airport men’s room sex sting, formed the consulting firm this year with partner Michael Ware, his former chief of staff.

Craig initially said his firm likely would focus on energy issues, but its website says, “We provide strategic advice, guidance, and advocacy to companies, trade associations, and other clients on a wide range of legislative and regulatory issues.” Though Craig, as a former senator, is banned from lobbying for two years after leaving office, his associates can lobby. His firm’s website, which repeatedly refers to Craig as “Senator Larry E. Craig,” touts his service in the Senate and House, his committee assignments, and his “reputation as a stalwart against environmental extremism.”

Craig dropping further appeals

Idaho Sen. Larry Craig now says he’s dropping his attempt to appeal his conviction in an airport bathroom sex sting in Minnesota, according to the Associated Press. Here’s the AP news item:

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A lawyer for former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig says they won’t ask the Minnesota Supreme Court to void Craig’s conviction in an airport bathroom sex sting. Minneapolis attorney Tom Kelly says he concluded that the state Supreme Court would not accept a petition for further review of the case, so it would be a futile exercise. He says that means the legal wrangling in the case is over. Thursday was the 30-day deadline for Craig to ask the high court to review a Minnesota Court of Appeals decision that went against him.
The Idaho Republican was arrested in 2007 by an undercover police officer who was conducting a sting operation against men cruising for gay sex at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The senator quietly pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and paid a fine, but changed his mind after word of his arrest became public. He insisted he was innocent and that he was not gay. He did not seek re-election.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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