GOP Challenges Ex-Dem Rep.'s Finances

A former Minnesota congressman is being questioned for accepting $12,500 in donations and spending more than $60,000 on campaign expenses in the two years after he was ousted from office.

The state GOP said it plans to challenge former Rep. Bill Luther's (search) spending since 2002, but the Democrat said the expenses were justifiable.

"It's just a winding-down of expenses and campaign activities, liquidating property and stuff like that," he said.

Luther, who served for four terms, filed federal candidacy papers in January 2003, two months after he lost to Republican John Kline (search). He chose not to run last year, saying he filed as a candidate only to "consider different options."

Some experts said Luther's spending could be legitimate if he genuinely had an eye on the 2004 U.S. House race or even if he was laying the groundwork for a future House or Senate race.

"It's reasonable to think he was considering it," said Amy Kauffman, director of the Hudson Institute's Project on Campaign and Election Laws (search). "A lot of people who are in office and lose it want to go back, and they're just waiting for the right moment."

However, Republicans said Luther's possible future intentions to run are not enough to justify his fund-raising and spending.

"Bill Luther is taking federal campaign finance laws for a ride," said Randy Wanke, a spokesman for the state Republican Party.