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Larry Craig’s Attorneys Argue Former Senator Has Suffered Enough

Craig talks to reporters in 2007 after the bathroom sex scandal was revealed. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Craig talks to reporters in 2007 after the bathroom sex scandal was revealed. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The legal battle stemming from ex-Sen. Larry Craig’s 2007 arrest in a Minnesota airport bathroom sex sting wages on.  

Nearly six months after a federal judge in the District of Columbia ordered the former senator to pay $242,535 to the Treasury Department in a lawsuit brought against the Idaho Republican by the Federal Election Commission, Craig is asking a federal appeals court for review. Craig wants the court to waive  the order that he must repay $197,533 in campaign funds from the Craig Committee to the Treasury Department, arguing he used the money for legal expenses “in good faith and on the advice of counsel.”

“Senator Craig has endured severe professional and personal consequences,” states a 59-page brief filed in the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday, referring to the fallout from the 2007 airport arrest, first reported by Roll Call.

Craig’s attorneys argue the court’s order is inconsistent with the intent of his donors and supporters, and a departure from FEC policy. They claim the precedent for “personal use” violations is to surrender improperly used funds back to the campaign committee.

“No record evidence exists of any committee donor requesting a refund. In such circumstances, ordering disgorgement to the U.S. Treasury is contrary to donor intent and is a de facto expenditure limitation,” the brief states, citing the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon v. FEC ruling.  

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson had a different take on the Craig Committee in her Sept. 30 ruling. She wrote that it functioned as “little more than an alter-ego for Senator Craig himself.” In settling on the amount, she noted that certain legal expenses related to media relations or responding to ethics inquiries both of which Craig faced  are partially or fully payable with campaign funds, according to precedent.  

Craig’s attorneys are also asking the court to set aside the $45,000 civil penalty he has been ordered to pay, arguing he has suffered enough.

“He continues to incur legal costs in this matter, which has also prolonged public focus on the events in Minnesota,” it continues, building the case that the scandal has already penalized him both personally and professionally.

Todd Ruger contributed to this story


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