He believes the taxpayers should pay $217,000 for his infamous trip to the bathroom at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
It's time to post one of those "Your Tax Dollars at Work" signs on a bathroom stall at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in honor of Larry Craig.J
That's because Craig, the former Republican U.S. senator from Idaho, believes the taxpayers of this great land should pay $217,000 for his infamous trip to the airport bathroom in 2007.
Craig was arrested by undercover agents as part of a sex-sting operation. You remember: The agents say Craig tapped his feet under a stall divider to signal he wanted sex. Craig blamed it on a misunderstanding borne out of a "wide stance."
There was never any confirmation that Craig sought to host a cable show with the working title, "Wide Stance/Narrow Views."
Craig ended up pleading guilty to disorderly conduct - but not before ringing up $139,952 in fees from a law firm in Washington, D.C., and a $77,032 bill with a law firm in Minneapolis.
How did Craig come up with the money? From his campaign funds, of course.
I'm still struggling with the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling allowing corporations to contribute at will to political campaigns, and now I'm supposed to understand that it also funds a six-figure trip to the bathroom.
Thank goodness, the Federal Elections Commission wants Craig to pay back the money and pay a fine - a total of $217,000 - arguing that he had converted the campaign money to personal use.
The commission apparently doesn't have much of a sense of humor and can't seem to fathom that any campaigning was going on in the bathroom stall in Minneapolis.
Attorneys for Craig filed a challenge last week, arguing: "Not only was the trip itself constitutionally required, but Senate rules sanction reimbursement for any cost relating to a senator's use of a bathroom while on official travel."
Yes, that's right: Larry Craig is arguing that going to the bathroom was part of his official business.
Therefore, if you can possibly follow his logic, the expense is covered under the Senate's rules for per-diem reimbursement because he was traveling between our nation's capitol and Idaho.
I'm not sure what Sarbanes or Oxley would make of turning in a $217,000 claim on an expense form for one trip to the bathroom. But, I'm pretty sure I know what any good controller would say.
If you check the U.S. General Services Administration website, there's a Frequently Asked Questions section about per-diem expenses for federal employees. There are 20 questions, including No. 13: "What is considered an incidental expense?"
Oddly, a $217,000 trip to the bathroom was not listed.
According to his legal challenge: "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."
Constitutionally enumerated duties? That's one explanation for a trip to the bathroom, although it will be difficult to think of a constitutional scholar in the same light.
With Wisconsin's U.S. Senate candidates already milling at the door to meet with our editorial board, we clearly have another crucial question to ask: What stance would our founding fathers, the framers of the Constitution, take on Larry Craig?
Rusty Cunningham is publisher of the La Crosse Tribune. Distributed by MCT Information Services
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.