Sen. Kirk’s campaign defends putting caregiver on payroll

CHICAGO (AP) — U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk’s campaign says the Illinois Republican did things “by the book” when he gave a campaign job to a personal caregiver hired to assist him following a 2012 stroke.

The Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday Kirk’s campaign paid the caregiver more than $43,000 between August 2013 and 2014. The newspaper also reported Mervyn Fombe-Abiko was twice arrested on theft and fraud charges.

A campaign reform organization questions whether Kirk used political donations for personal expenses.

Kirk’s campaign says he personally paid Fombe-Abiko for caregiver services. They say Fombe-Abiko was paid separately by the campaign for entry-level work such as data entry.

Campaign manager Kevin Artl says the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics approved the arrangement.

Kirk is seeking re-election in one of 2016’s most competitive races.