Senators to Larry Craig: Time to quit

Idaho Sen. Larry Craig’s political support eroded by the hour on Wednesday as fellow Republicans in Congress called for him to resign and party leaders pushed him unceremoniously from senior committee posts.

The White House expressed disappointment, too — and nary a word of support for the 62-year-old lawmaker, who pleaded guilty earlier this month to a charge stemming from an undercover police operation in an airport men’s room.

Craig “represents the Republican Party,” said Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, the first in a steadily lengthening list of GOP members of Congress to urge a resignation.

The senator’s spokesman declined comment. “They have a right to express themselves,” said Sidney Smith. He said he had heard no discussion of a possible resignation.

Craig said Tuesday he had committed no wrongdoing and shouldn’t have pleaded guilty. He said he had only recently retained a lawyer to advise him in the case that threatens to write an ignominious end to a lifetime in public office.

Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Norm Coleman of Minnesota joined Hoekstra in urging Craig to step down, as did Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida — and others who joined them as the day wore on.

McCain spoke out in an interview with CNN. “My opinion is that when you plead guilty to a crime, you shouldn’t serve. That’s not a moral stand. That’s not a holier-than-thou. It’s just a factual situation.”

Coleman said in a written statement, “Senator Craig pled guilty to a crime involving conduct unbecoming a senator.”

For a second consecutive day, GOP Senate leaders stepped in, issuing a statement that said Craig had “agreed to comply with leadership’s request” to temporarily give up his posts on important committees. He has been the top Republican on the Veterans Affairs Committee as well as on subcommittees for two other panels.

“This is not a decision we take lightly, but we believe this is in the best interest of the Senate until this situation is resolved by the ethics committee,” said the statement, issued in the name of Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the party leader, and others.

On Tuesday, the leaders jumped in ahead of Craig’s appearance before television cameras in Idaho to announce they had asked the ethics committee to look into the case.

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said, “We are disappointed in the matter,” without specifying exactly what was causing the discomfort.

He said he hoped the ethics committee would do its work swiftly, “as that would be in the best interests of the Senate and the people of Idaho.”

In Craig’s home state, Republican Gov. C.L. (Butch) Otter said his longtime friend “is an honorable man and I am confident that Larry Craig will do what is best for him and his family and the state of Idaho.”

For the most part, Democrats studiously avoided involvement with an unfolding Republican scandal.

“We at least ought to hear his side of the story.,” said Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, like McCain a presidential contender who spoke on CNN.

Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., said his party stood to gain. “All of these people who (are) holier than thou are now under investigations. … I think the Republican Party will find itself in a great peril next year,” he said.

McCain’s call for a resignation was the first among GOP presidential rivals.

Sen. Sam Brownback, also seeking the White House, said Craig’s declaration that he had pleaded guilty to make the issue go away “doesn’t work in these jobs.” Still, the Kansan said it was premature to call for Craig to resign.

That wasn’t how it was seen by Coleman, a senator facing a potentially difficult re-election contest next year, or by Hoekstra, who signaled a concern about the impact on the party generally.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Hoekstra called Craig’s explanations “not credible.”

“I think it’s important for Republicans to step out right now and say, ‘No, this behavior is not going to be tolerated,'” he said.

Hoekstra, a conservative from western Michigan, said he reached his decision on his own and had not consulted with party leaders.

“It’s not a judgment on gay rights or anything like that. This is about leadership and setting a standard that the American people and your colleagues in the Republican Party can feel good about.”

Other Republicans dwelt on Craig’s guilty plea, but Hoekstra’s mention of homosexuality reflected a separate concern.

“I am not gay. I never have been gay,” the senator said on Tuesday, but that stood in apparent contradiction to the police report that led to his guilty plea, submitted on Aug. 1.

Craig was arrested on June 11 in the Minneapolis airport men’s room after an undercover officer observed conduct that he said was “often used by persons communicating a desire to engage in sexual conduct.”

Craig was read his rights, fingerprinted and required to submit to a mug shot at the time of his arrest.

He subsequently pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, and signed papers that included a notation that the court would not accept a guilty plea from anyone claiming to be innocent.

In his public appearance on Tuesday, Craig said he had “overreacted and made a poor decision” after being apprehended.

“While I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct in the Minneapolis Airport or anywhere else, I chose to plead guilty to a lesser charge in hopes of making it go away,” he said.

Democratic Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, an openly homosexual member of the House, said Craig was a hypocrite on gay rights issues but he didn’t think the Republican senator should resign.

“This is the hypocrisy — it’s to deny legal equality to gay people, but then to engage in gay behavior,” Frank said.

___

Associated Press writer Todd Dvorak contributed to this story from Idaho. Matthew Daly, Ken Thomas and Andrew Miga contributed from Washington, and Jim Davenport from Columbia, S.C.

17 Responses to "Senators to Larry Craig: Time to quit"

  1. geyser  August 30, 2007 at 7:37 pm

    This is getting out of hand. Politicians and Men of the Cloth or almost, getting outted in the worst snd embarrassing ways. The Republicans have in all intent and purpose ruined their own motto and mantra. They can not refer to themselves as the “Family Values” party, continuing to do so, will further damage their reputation and make true the hypocrits they say they’re not. It also shows the trait that has grown in leaps and bounds, making them
    pathological liars.
    Senator Craig, completely lost his cool. He paniced when confronted with the Police and the charge. He is a Lawyer, he should know, never speak without a Lawyer present and what was giving the Police a Business Card, saying he is a Senator then saying, “What do you think of that? What did Craig have in mind, I’m a Senator and above the law?
    Craig is a jerk, I wouldn’t put it past him to have dropped to his knee’s and try to do the cop to get off scott free.
    He can’t get out of this clean, dirt will get on him and stay. He will need the Iowa voters to believe he is not gay. I don’t think Iowans are ready to accept Gays as part of the human race. His re-election will count on it.

  2. SEAL  August 30, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    “One Just Man” was written by Dr. Karl Menninger. I’m not sure of the spelling.

  3. yarply  August 30, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    I must say that after reading the transcript of his
    arrest I would have to admit some doubts to his guilt. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=3543062&page=1
    It seemed more like he was badgered into an admission in which it appears he did not realize what he was admitting too, even though he did sign that he did understand. The main reason for this is the contrived manner in which the cop acted and also how after all the media coverage, that the actual account of what was said and done is not as clear cut as some would have us believe. I think Craig was scared of the damage the case, if taken to court would do him, and as he said he had/has been accused of being gay by the Idaho statesman. In light of all this, I must say that
    he may be telling the truth, but the guy was stupid as hell to cop a plea on this issue.

  4. Steve Horn  August 30, 2007 at 10:11 am

    JoyfulC –

    I don’t think his sexual orientation has anything at all to do with this. To me it’s an issue of integrity.

    Innocent people don’t take plead guilty to make problems go away. After all, the state needs to prove you guilty – you don’t need to prove yourself innocent (this is still America, isn’t it???).

    I could care less if Larry was hittin’ on a guy in a bathroom for sexual gratification – what I object to is the constant stream of lies from our “leaders” and their presumption that they are somehow above the law. This attitude seems to be pervasive in DC – crosses party lines and really enrages me.

    Peace

    Steve

  5. JoyfulC  August 30, 2007 at 8:43 am

    Is anybody else as sick and tired as I am of hearing about the sex lives of our politicians?

    I blame the Republicans for this. It might have seemed like a good idea at the time to cross the boundaries of good taste and expose Bill Clinton’s peccadilloes, but were they really so short-sighted as to not imagine that a few Republicans might have some kinky secrets too?? Sheesh! And the sad thing is, it’s more likely that a Republican voter would take such things into account. Democrats and undecideds elected Clinton not once but twice, with full awareness that he was a poonhound.

    I don’t really see that there is necessarily hypocrisy here, even if the guy is gay. Some gays and bis really could believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, just like many heterosexuals believe strongly that gay unions should be recognized. There may even be gays who believe in their hearts that the lifestyle is sinful and unhealthy, all the while dealing with the urges of their orientations. Things aren’t always so black and white.

    There was a time when people’s sex lives were off limits politically, and I suggest we return to that civilized state and get back to focusing on what’s important.

  6. Steve Horn  August 30, 2007 at 10:17 am

    You make some great points JerZGirl – I’m a foot tapper myself (guess I’d better exercise caution when using the facilities in mid-Western airports from now on!) – I cannot imagine that he was arrested simply for tapping his foot – that would be absurd.

    As far as I know, you cannot be arrested for solicitation until you discuss the exchange of money for sex –

    Peace

    Steve

  7. JerZGirl  August 30, 2007 at 9:57 am

    I’d like to know why illicit sex is “conduct unbecoming a senator” while accepting bribes, adultery, etc. aren’t (Tom Delay, Newt Gingrich, et al). Can any Republican offer a reasonable explanation for that since all sins violate God’s laws? After all, more than one have declared themselves doers of God’s will and bearers of the moral standard.

    Also, if all he did was tap his feet (a signal, apparently, that one is looking for sex), did it have to go beyond tapping to prove that? I’ve been known to tap my feet a time or two – just to kill time, as it were. I know men who also tap while they make use of the facilities – even in private homes. Is there any possibility he was merely a nervous tapper who was assumed to be asking for more? I can’t imagine he was if he willingly pled guilty to foot tapping as lewd conduct. He had to have taken the next step, don’t you think? (I’m sorry – I try to see all sides, if possible.)

    ————————————————–
    Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.

    Wisdom is knowing not to put it in fruit salad.

  8. JoyfulC  August 30, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    Unfortunately, in our system of justice, innocent people cop pleas to lesser offenses all the time for a whole host of reasons — not the least of which, because they don’t have the resources for a decent defense attorney.

    But in this case, he probably was guilty — and if that was the case, why did the prosecutor give him an out? If they have a solid case, shouldn’t they be willing to go to trial on the original charge? Again, though, prosecutors accept lesser pleas all the time for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which are 1) their case isn’t really that strong; and 2) they’re saving the taxpayers the expense of a trial.

    So I’m not sure there’s really that much integrity involved in the justice system in general. This is more an indictment of the justice system than this man, in my view. It happens to more anonymous people all the time.

    A friend of mine was grocery shopping with her small children and the one kid put some item in her stroller when she wasn’t looking. It was under $2. On her way out of the store, she was stopped by security and arrested for shoplifting. She was given an option to sign a paper agreeing to undergo some community service thing or else have the cops called and be arrested. Frankly, I would have made them call the cops.

    But she was mortified. She signed the paper. Also in the fine print was something about the company having the option to sue her for damages — damages? But she “just wanted it to go away” and she does a lot of community service anyway, so she went that route. She did 20-some hours with Salvation Army or some such thing and had to pay $50.

    THEN a couple months later, she gets a letter demanding that she pay over $300 for expenses or else be sued and have to go to court, pay all their expenses for suing her, etc. Again, I would have told them I’d see them in court — but again, she was so mortified, she wrote the cheque.

    I could not believe that this supermarket chain treated one of their loyal shoppers this way. This woman was no shoplifter, and she offered to pay for the item (and probably would have even paid a hefty fee for restocking, as well). Why was she treated like this? When I think of all the times I shopped at that same store, and arrived home only to find that the swiss cheese that was on my receipt wasn’t in any of my bags, or that the milk was leaking, or that the bone was much larger in the roast than it appeared from packaging — why! I never realized that these were potentially criminal offenses and causes for lawsuits. I figured it was just human error — something we all have to deal with to a reasonable degree.

    I doubt their policies do much to deter true shoplifters, but it probably milks a lot of money out of mortified decent customers. And too, probably most of these people are too ashamed to tell anyone (I only found out because I walked in on her crying immediately after it happened), so they’ll continue to get away with it.

    And yeah, she still shops there. If she would have boycotted them, I would have too — but since she “made it go away” I guess it’s solved. I guess that’s just how things work!

  9. JudyB  August 30, 2007 at 12:24 pm

    I would say that if Craig were honest, instead of declaring “I am not gay!”, he would have said “I am not gay..I just prefer having sex with men”.
    Craig is another example of someone having lived his life as a closet homosexual while verbally and by his votes denying them their freedoms. He is not only a hypocrite, but a despicable sleazeball liar!

    “Hypocrite: the man who murdered both his parents… pleaded for mercy on the grounds that he was an orphan.” ~Abraham Lincoln

  10. Carl Nemo  August 30, 2007 at 3:13 am

    “We the People” to the U.S. Senate. It’s time for all of you to resign…! Larry Craig is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the corruption in which this Club of 100 is engaged 24/7/365. The remaining 99 haven’t been exposed as yet. The FBI is currently shining a spotlight on a few others too, all with -R after their names.

    Rest assured there’s no shortage of duplicit, corrupt Dems. : |

    Carl Nemo **==

  11. Sandra Price  August 30, 2007 at 6:54 am

    I think this action of Craig’s and his immediate reation when faced with being caught is typical of our legislators. Whether he was guilty or innocent all he thought about was how to get out of the trouble the most efficient way. Pleading guilty would keep this out of court and possibly nobody would notice. All he had to do was pay a fine and go on probation and it would pass. The minds of our elected legislators are not trained to make moral actions in their own lives.

    I think this is also part of the training that these men go through from childhood to learn how to protect their own asses when caught doing anything.

    Carl, it is not a partisan problem but a part of skipping over the law when necessary. The majority of Americans are raised that everything is forgiven by their God if they simply ask for it and put money in the tray. It removes many moral standards from these people and we are just seeing the results of this nonsense that we are not responsible for our own bad actions. I heard a discussion on this last night that all Christians must forgive Craig as he is a Christian.

    It is time that all Americans learn the laws of the land and either live them or go down in shame. It is acceptable for men to pick up women anywhere they can and I cannot see the difference with men picking up other men.

    It was bad timing on Craig’s part as he knows better than anyone that America is in the arms of the religious right who are looking for sins so they can justify the prohibitions that they continue to threaten all of us with.

    I compare his voting record with his actions and he is a hypocrite. That is enough for me.

  12. vietnam vet  August 30, 2007 at 9:59 am

    vietnam vet
    Sandra,to me religion is a political system designed by man to tell God how they are going to worship him.
    I am a christian, which means Christ-like, and I purpose to live only to please God and not man. I think one of our biggest downfall is that we put too much trust in man and very little in the the one who created us(God). The political system use christians for their own personal gain, and sad to say, most christians fall for it.

    I enjoy reading your articles, because in them is a lot of wisdom. I just don’t agree with you when it comes to christianity.

    Craig is only a christian in word, and not in deed. Will I forgive him? sure I will, but that’s not to say that he will go unpunished for what he has done.

  13. cityprof  August 30, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    The only reason the Repuglicans want Craig to resign is so that Idaho’s repuglican governor can appoint a fill-in before the election. Then they have a chance of retaining the repuglican seat.

  14. SEAL  August 30, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    There is a lot of misinformation and good information posted so far. Unless you have worked in the criminal courts system or been arrested and charged with a crime you have no conception of how or why it works the way it does. From the arrest to final judgment, everything about it is unconstitutional. I learned that as the Southeast Florida Director of the Bureau of Missing Children for a few years in the 90’s.

    It would take several pages and the ability to stay focued much longer than I care to try to properly explain it. There is a book titled “One Just Man” that a well known psychologist had published in the late 70’s or early 80’s that is very interesting to read because he wrote it as fiction. He exposes the plea bargain system. 98% of all cases are settled that way.

    The story centers on a long time Public Defender in the felony division who became fed up with pleading his clients guilty when they were not, or the state’s case was insufficient to convict if properly defended and he knew he could win 80-90% of those cases if financed and allowed to plead everyone not guilty. He also knew the impact such an action would have on the criminal court system. It would be impossible for them to prosecute everyone and he would expose and literally shut down the system.

    He talked with the inmates being held in the county jail waiting for court, they agreed to do it, and he plead everyone NOT guilty every day and demanded a speedy trial – 90 days or the state must drop the case. Of course the end result was movie material and I think they did make one about it and it was shown for a short period of time. No media will air it any more for the obvious reason. A very large library may have a copy of the book gathering dust someplace. I seem to remember someone telling me he found it on video many moons ago.

    THE ONLY CRIME IN AMERICA IS GETTING CAUGHT !!!

    Not only is that demonstrated by the criminal justice system but it is the attitude of our society. I don’t believe there is one single person that has not broken a law in their lifetime and knew it either before or after the fact. How many people do you kinow that have found an item they were not charged for in their bag when they got home and took it back to the store? Or told the cashier they gave you too much change? We lie like hell when stopped for traffic offenses. And you would be amazed at the percentage of mothers shoplifting “out of need” due to the bad ecomomy. Your son scored the winning goal but you saw the foul he committed to do it. Do you run out to show the ref the mark that proves your son stepped out of bounds or do you wipe out the mark with your foot and tell your son he was really lucky to get away with it? How many times has a good friend told you they found that real expensive necklace they could not afford for some ridiculously lowprice, or at the thrift shop, or they may even admit it was mispriced and they grabbed it before the store realized it?

    This is the baseline training, the origin, and that concept runs right on up the ladder of offenses until it becomes crimes that should be stopped such as drugs. That is when all of us lawbreakers demand that those law breakers be caught and punished. Therein is the hipocracy and all of us are guilty of it to some degree. My “little” crime is OK. There was no crime if I did not get caught. But that breeds more serious offenses because making tons of money selling drugs is OK to if I don’t get caught. The rules are for other people.

    There are cases wherein the law is wrong. I have witnessed judges granting custody to the obviously abusive parent and two months later was handed an arrest warrant for the other parent that was forced to break the law to protect their child. I can now admit to allowing a few parents to remain free (can’t find them) with their child because I knew they had the support from organizations and the child would be better off with them. I never let the parent know I had found them though. Had to cover my own ass. Kidnapping is a capital crime. Wanna give a loving and responsible mother a potential life sentence for protecting their child? I don’t.

    The problem lies within the law itself. Everything the majority doesn’t like is made a crime. Consequently, there is no way any person can avoid breaking some law they don’t know exists. Go to any courthouse in any large city and sit in the court and watch the mass parade of people having a 2-5 minute audience with a public defender who explains that if you plead guilty they will place you on probation for 6 months and community service. Otherwise, if you fight it and lose you will be exposed and go to jail for one year. So, you do what the senator did. All the defendants do that. One PD for the 50-70 people in that court room and there are identical senarios being carried out in every other room by other PD’s who have so many cases they have to use a dolly to carry them.

    If you are perceptive, you begin to see the purpose of this mass execution of justice > MONEY!! My 16 year old son was given two tickets for running over the neighbors mail box. We know the people and my son put a new mail box in for him while we all stood around drinking a beer and laughing. I asked the judge what she would do if he plead guilty and she said $5 dollars for each ticket plus court costs. Of course, I said let’s do that. When we got to the clerks office we found the court costs were $200 dollars for each ticket – $410.00 total. This type of sentence and court costs was being handed out to practically every person in that court. Enticing pleas with low fines and then nailing you with the court costs. Some people had 3-4-5 tickets. The fact is that this is standard procedure in all the misdomeanors courts. Twelve courts running twice a day. Add it up. 5 days a week and you come up with millions. They don’t want to throw you in jail. They want your money and your labor to keep the government parking lots clean.

    But you cannot stop shoplifting because you don’t have the income for what your family needs. Next time you will make sure you do not get caught. At least half the people of this nation are serial shoplifters. Maybe only once a month but serial nonetheless. If you live in a good size city, go sit in a misdomeanor court one day and watch. Chances are pretty good you will see someone you know.

    When the only crime is getting caught, criminal behaviour flourishes and hipocracy grows. We see the results now. All the way from your next door neighbor to congress. We are a society of criminals.

  15. JoyfulC  August 31, 2007 at 11:04 am

    Very interesting comments! Thanks for the food for thought.

    I am not sure I’m prepared to accept, however, that “at least half the people of this nation are serial shoplifters” — hope I’m not wrong! I think there’s a big difference between accepting “serendipity” (like when you find something in your bag that you *didn’t* pay for, for once — instead of not finding something in there that you did pay for) and planned and premeditated theft. I don’t think half of everyone out there does it at all, much less regularly. I’d probably put it closer to 20%, but that’s just my personal guess. (I’ve never stolen so much as a pen in all my life … oh, well, unless you count that airplane! But that was more a matter of “borrowing without the owner’s knowledge and consent.” ;-)

    The scary thing is that corporate retailers are jumping on the gravy train. When this happened to my friend, I very strongly urged her to take a stand, but I see her point that while she might have proved her innocence technically, the fight probably would have damaged her good name far more than just paying the money and keeping quiet about it. When a person is charged with murder, it’s front page news. When they’re acquitted, it’s often on page 13, at the bottom on the left. The front page is reserved for the latest scandal.

    In spite of my friend making it clear that she was just going to roll over and play dead, I did some discreet nosing around, and was shocked to discover that almost everyone I talked to had either had something similar happen to them or a family member, or to someone they knew. I did some research online and found a few mentions of it as well. None of the people involved had needs that would necessitate shoplifting, and if they were thrill cleptos, then how odd is it that it would be a 1-time thing? In the case of my friend, she is in her mid-30s and has never had so much as a parking ticket. And ironically, she really *is* the type that would tell the cashier if she got back too much change or was undercharged for something. This is what infuriated me so — it couldn’t have happened to a more decent and honest person.

    I also checked with a legal aid clinic at a local university, who gave me a pamphlet with instructions for what a person should do if they receive a letter demanding damages from a company, but the young woman I spoke with there told me two things: 1) the companies rarely follow through on threats to sue because it’s not likely to be cost effective; and 2) most people who receive such letters will simply write the cheque, even if they weren’t guilty of shoplifting, simply because they’re embarrassed and want it all to go away.

    Tidy little scam, if you ask me! Or maybe a better term for it would be “blackmail.”

    Although it’s a matter of public record who is charged and convicted of crimes, one wonders how exactly this Senator’s misadventures came to light. Perhaps he should have kept mum about being a senator! If he’d been a janitor or a burger flipper at McDonald’s, you can damned well bet no one back home would have ever found out. Perhaps the biggest mistake he made was to try to throw his weight around, as though a vice cop would be loathe to bust a Congressman — that would be very naive!

  16. VietnamVet  August 30, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    RE: Submitted by Sandra Price on August 30, 2007 – 6:54am

    Someone posted a comment regarding your post. I don’t know how that is possible; I thought the site software prohibited that, but I did not post the comment. Must be an imposter?

    There are several subjects I do not post comments on, and one is religion!

  17. adamrussell  August 30, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    We are not a society of criminals, but there definitely is a sub-culture of deciet.

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