Former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, the newly named finance chairman for the Idaho Republican Party, is appealing a federal judge’s order to pay more than $242,000 to the U.S. Treasury to make up for improper use of campaign funds to cover legal expenses incurred after his 2007 arrest in an airport bathroom sex sting.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Sept. 30 ordered Craig to pay 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.”
Craig was arrested in Minneapolis airport men’s room in 2007 in a sex sting, after an undercover officer said he tapped his foot under the stall wall and gave other indications he wanted to solicit sex. The then-GOP senator pleaded guilty to one count of disorderly conduct after the arrest, then, after news of the arrest surfaced, tried unsuccessfully to rescind the plea.
Craig claimed he was on official Senate travel between Idaho and Washington, D.C. at the time of the arrest, so the incident occurred in the course of his official duties and he was justified in tapping more than $200,000 in campaign funds for his legal defense. Both the Federal Election Commission and the federal judge disagreed.
In 2008, the Senate Ethics Committee formally admonished Craig, both for his conduct during and after the incident, and for his use of campaign funds on his legal defense. Craig retired from the Senate after completing his third term in 2008; he’d previously served five terms in the U.S. House.
In August, new Idaho Republican Party Chairman Steve Yates appointed Craig to serve as the party’s finance chairman, an unpaid position in which he’s “responsible for developing and executing fundraising programs for the Idaho Republican Party,” according to the party’s rules. Yates couldn’t immediately be reached Monday for comment.
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