Political watchdog groups are calling on disgraced former state Sen. Carl Kruger to give up the $400,000 in campaign funds he’s still sitting on as he cools his heels in a minimum security prison in New Jersey.
Kruger could use the money he still has in his Friends of Carl account for a political run when he gets out of the slammer in seven years, but members of the New York Public Interest Research Group say that it would be better spent on Brooklyn charities or turned over to the state to be included in the general fund
“It somebody’s going to jail for a long time, at some point these campaign funds should be closed down and the money distributed,” said Russ Haven, legislative counsel for the New York Public Interest Research Group haven. “The system’s insane. There are dead people who still have campaign funds!”
Kruger’s Friends of Carl account once swelled to more than $2 million, but fell considerably when the embattled pol used it to pay for his attorney fees as he fought — and ultimately pleaded guilty to — charges that he had taken up to $1 million in bribes.
Before being shipped out to Fort Dix to serve out his sentence, Kruger gave $10,000 to former Senate Minority Leader Martin Connor for legal advice for closing his office and installing a treasurer who will file information about the campaign account “every six month,” according to our sister publication, the New York Post.
Kruger also used $7,500 from his campaign account to pay for a “prison consultant” to give him a run down on what to expect in prison.
New York’s election laws allow Kruger to his campaign funds for his defense, since the criminal accusations were connected to his position in the state senate.
Yet Haven said that politicians have been using their campaign accounts to pay for a number of illegitimate expenses, and have no trouble justifying their decision with state regulators.
“Any rationale a campaign committee can come up with will pass muster with state regulations, regardless of how outlandish the spending is,” said Haven. “When people donate money to a candidate they expect the funds to be used for the campaign, but we’ve seen everything from veterinary expenses, to vacation travel fares.”
But even without the war chest, Kruger will be sitting pretty once he’s back in the real world — Kruger, who resigned from office before pleading guilty, will be receiving a yearly pension of $65,000.Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cn
©2012 Community News Group
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