Former Republican U.S. Sen. Larry Craig aims to fend off a federal election lawsuit against him by arguing his infamous July 11, 2007, Minneapolis airport bathroom visit that ended in his sex-sting arrest was part of his official Senate business.Here's what's going on. Sen. Larry Craig, you may recall, was busted in an airport bathroom for soliciting gay dirty airport bathroom sex from an undercover cop. All fine and normal, right? Then, however, Craig used $217,000 of his campaign money for his legal defense, which in turn led to the FEC telling him he couldn't bloody well do that. Craig's argument? That he was in that bathroom on official business. You know—Senate stuff. And the Senate says you can be "reimbursed" for any travel-related costs including, yes, costs incurred while pooping in airport bathrooms. Via some campaign law magic that I won't pretend to understand, this apparently therefore means you can get reimbursed from your campaign funds for your official Senate-related dirty airport bathroom sex, I guess. I don't know. But that's the argument.
What's almost as strange as Craig's argument that defending yourself from charges of illegally soliciting dirty airport bathroom sex is of course part of his official Senate duties is what Craig's pointing to as precedent for that argument:
In documents supporting his bid to have the complaint dismissed, Craig cites the case of former U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona, who tapped campaign money in 2006 to defend himself after allegations of improper behavior emerged against him following a Grand Canyon rafting trip with two former male pages. [...]Ah! I remember that! Wow, needing to defend yourself against criminal charges seems to come up an awful lot during the course of official House and Senate work, if it's been reduced to the level of "ordinary expenses."
The FEC concluded that Kolbe's use of the campaign money to pay legal expenses associated with a Department of Justice inquiry regarding the trip were "ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in connection with his duty as a House member."
"Simply put, no principled distinction can be drawn between the Kolbe matter and this case," [Craig's lawyer] contends. "Sen. Craig's legal expenses arose during official Senate travel, an activity that was part of his constitutionally enumerated duties as a holder of federal office."Now I'm no big-city law talking guy, but this seems a hell of broad thing. Does this mean that as long as you're traveling either to or from the Senate, you can do anything and claim the consequences as a Senate-related expense? Stealing a car, robbing a bank, going on a multistate kiling spree—it's all good, because hey, official Senate business? Not sure you could get away with that in any other line of work, but I guess that's what's in the Constitution. Yet another perk of the job.