FEC v. Craig for U.S. Senate
On March 28, 2013, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss in FEC v. Craig for U.S. Senate, a suit that claims former Senator Larry Craig impermissibly converted campaign funds to personal use.
The defendants moved to dismiss the suit, arguing: the use of campaign funds for Mr. Craig’s legal expenses was expressly permitted under the statute and not subject to the prohibition against personal use; and the defendants should be immune from FEC enforcement in this case based on FEC advisory opinions that defendants claim approve the use of campaign funds in similar situations.
The Commission’s complaint alleges that the defendants, Craig for U.S. Senate, its treasurer, Kaye L. O’Riordan, and Mr. Craig, violated 2 U.S.C §439a(b) by spending more than $200,000 in campaign funds to pay legal expenses stemming from Mr. Craig’s attempt to withdraw the guilty plea he entered following his June 2007 arrest at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. The suit claims that these expenses were not incurred in connection with Mr. Craig’s campaign for federal office or with his ordinary and necessary duties as a Senator, and that the payment of these expenses with campaign funds amounts to impermissible personal use. The FEC seeks, among other things, an order assessing civil penalties and requiring Mr. Craig to repay the campaign funds he used for his personal legal expenses to his campaign committee.
The court found neither of these arguments persuasive and denied the motion to dismiss.
The court concluded that the expenditures for legal fees could not be characterized as ordinary and necessary expenses in connection with Mr. Craig’s duties as a federal officeholder and that the expenses would have existed irrespective of his duties as an officeholder.
The court also rejected the defendants’ reliance on past FEC advisory opinions because the facts in those opinions are entirely distinguishable from the facts in this case.
The court ordered the parties to file a joint report by April 19 and to attend a status and scheduling conference on April 26.
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia: Case 1:12-cv-00958-ABJ.
(Posted 4/4/2013; By: Isaac J. Baker)
RETURN TO FEC RECORD HOME