Kolbe seeks to use campaign funds for legal aid

Kolbe bwFrom the Republic:

Retired Rep. Jim Kolbe is asking federal election officials if he can use his unspent campaign cash to pay legal bills related to congressional and Justice Department inquiries into a rafting trip he took with two underage former male pages and others in 1996.

A hearing has been set Thursday before the Federal Election Commission.

A draft advisory opinion by FEC staff concludes the former 11-term GOP congressman can use the campaign money, because the trip was taken in connection with Kolbes official congressional duties. Kolbe retired from Congress at the close of the last session.

The commissioners can vote to accept or reject the recommendation, FEC spokesman Bob Biersack said Tuesday.

Kolbe, reached in Tucson, said he had no comment on the scheduled hearing or the status of the Justice Department review into his rafting trip. He said he is not attending the hearing.

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