Campaign Money to Fight Congressional Sex Scandals?
When it comes to congressional sex scandals, a lawmaker's best friends could very will be his donors.
Since pleading guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in connection with a sex sting in a Minneapolis airport bathroom, Sen. Larry Craig has tried unsuccessfully to overturn his plea and regain his political career.
But the veteran Idaho Republican has raised just $4,645 for his legal defense fund, most from longtime friends and neighbors. Donors are allowed to give up to $10,000 to the fund, but Craig has received much smaller contributions, McClatchy Newspapers reports.
In February, the Senate Ethics Committee admonished Craig, saying his arrest constituted "improper conduct." The Ethics Committee also found that Craig broke a Senate rule by failing to seek the committee's permission before spending more than $200,000 in leftover campaign money to try to clear his name.
Craig announced in September 2007 he would resign, saying that his arrest had made it impossible for him to serve his constituents. But he reversed course a few days later, saying he wants to stay in the Senate if he can get his guilty plea dropped.
Craig has since given up his seat, deciding not to run for re-election.
Read about Sen. David Vitter's flush legal defense fund after the jump:
Meanwhile, Sen. David Vitter, the Louisiana Republican who successfully staved off calls for his resignation in the midst of the "D.C. Madam" prostitution scandal, has raised $200,000 in a special legal defense fund to fight the Senate Ethics Committee.
In July 2007, Vitter's number appeared on the client list of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, who was later convicted in federal court of money laundering, mail fraud and conspiracy in connection with a high-end prostitution service she ran. Palfrey committed suicide before she could be sentenced.
Vitter apologized, but returned to work in Washington.
Vitter then opened and quickly closed a legal defense fund account after one month of fundraising, while still trying to use campaign money to pay legal fees. The Federal Election Commission ruled that he could only use $40,000 of his campaign contributions; Vitter has incurred at least $200,000 in legal fees.
Most of the 27 donors to the "Vitter Legal Expense Trust Fund" were well-known political and business figures in Louisiana, including John Georges, a wealthy businessman and one-time gubernatorial candidate and Gary Chouest, a shipbuilder and part owner of the New Orleans Hornets. Seven members of the Chouest family contributed $40,000 to the fund, The Monroe (La.) News-Star reported.
By Derek Kravitz |
November 10, 2008; 4:00 PM ET
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Posted by: Sideswiped | November 11, 2008 5:44 PM