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Larry Craig's Legal Defense Funds In Question

By Michelle Garcia

A federal court will determine whether former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig violated the law when he used campaign money for legal defense when he was arrested for soliciting sex in an airport bathroom.

In 2007 Craig entered a bathroom stall at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport next to an undercover police officer, indicating he was looking for quick anonymous sex with another man. He was arrested and paid $216,000 in legal fees for his defense, which the Federal Election Commission says was improper use of campaign funds, according to McClatchy newspapers.

“Craig was arrested for purely personal conduct unrelated to his duties as a federal officeholder,” the FEC attorneys wrote in the case's legal brief. However, Craig's lawyers say he was "engaged in official Senate-sponsored travel" while he was in Minnesota.

Judge Amy Berman will determine whether Craig was indeed on official campaign business, which would then allow him to rightfully use the cash in his legal defense.

One of Craig's attorneys told McClatchy that the the ruling could have wide implications for current and future members of Congress.

"It would certainly have an application for any member of Congress, when they are trying to determine if they could use campaign funds for a legal defense," attorney Andrew D. Herman said.

Craig, who left office in 2008, is now a lobbyist.

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