First the guy in the stall next to him turns out to be an undercover cop, then they won't let him withdraw his guilty plea, then he has to retire from the Senate, now they're all "you can't use campaign funds to pay for your legal defense of the bathroom incident." When is this witch hunt going to end?
Not today, that's for sure.
In a 31-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled yesterday that former Idaho senator Larry Craig and his campaign committee (current membership: Larry Craig) violated federal election laws when he/it/they used campaign funds to pay for Craig's efforts to withdraw the aforementioned guilty plea. The Federal Election Commission sued after it learned Craig had done this.
Craig responded with what was previously classified here as a Brilliant Argument, namely that because Craig was traveling between Idaho and D.C. at the time he allegedly propositioned someone in a Minneapolis airport bathroom, any legal fees related to that incident were "related to official Senate duties." I awarded bonus points because Craig had previously argued to the Senate Ethics Committee that the incident was personal conduct "unrelated to the performance of official Senate duties."
It's almost like when you use "un" or "not" or words to that effect, it can change the whole meaning of an argument. If you want to get technical about it.
The court rejected Craig's argument a while ago when it denied his motion to dismiss, ruling that if the facts in the complaint were true, Craig had violated the law. So when Craig then "filed an answer that admitted nearly all of the factual allegations in the complaint," well, he was running a little short of wiggle room, legally speaking. Yesterday's order granted the FEC's motion for summary judgment and ordered Craig to pay almost a quarter of a million dollars. This included a penalty of $45,000 in addition to the misused campaign money.
The court described its order as "the first of its kind," which I assume means that (1) no member of Congress has ever before used campaign money for personal legal expenses or (2) no member of Congress has ever been punished for doing that, take your pick.
While Joe Francis has probably been the subject of more posts here, I'm not sure any single case has generated more Brilliant Arguments than Larry Craig's. Just off the top of my head, he's offered:
- My Foot Was Only In the Other Stall Because I Have a "Wide Stance"
- My Foot-Tapping Was Not Intended as a Message to the Person in That Stall
- If It Was, That Was Protected Speech
- I Did Not Understand the Meaning of a "Guilty Plea"
- Legal Fees Stemming From the "Guilty Plea" Were Related to My Official Senate Duties
That's some pretty impressive work there.