BOISE – Federal Election Commission lawyers urged a federal judge not to heed 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 FEC, which announced its latest legal filing Friday, 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, its lawyers wrote.
Now, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson has several options, including ruling on the FEC’s demand Craig pay restitution of $216,000 to his campaign fund and fines of $140,000 or scheduling a courtroom hearing for further arguments.
This battle has endured more than a year, as the commission seeks to force Craig to repay his campaign. Negotiations failed, and the two sides are entrenched.
Andrew Herman, Craig’s Washington, D.C.- based lawyer, wrote in court filings that Craig is financially unable to cover the total and that the former three-term GOP lawmaker acted in good faith, having genuinely thought using campaign cash was appropriate.
Herman contends Craig hired lawyers in his unsuccessful bid to have his guilty plea to disorderly conduct reversed “with the sole purpose of defending Senator Craig’s reputation and vindicating him personally and professionally.”
The FEC, meanwhile, argues nothing about Craig’s July restroom trip or its legal aftermath entitled him to tap campaign funds.