Larry Craig resigns from Senate

Idaho Sen. Larry Craig resigned Saturday over a men’s room sex sting, bowing to pressure from fellow Republicans worried about a scandal dimming their election prospects.

“I apologize for what I have caused,” Craig said.

Craig’s resignation completed a stunning downfall that began Monday with the disclosure that he had pleaded guilty to a reduced charge following his arrest during a sex sting in a Minneapolis airport men’s room.

Although leading members of his own party had called for him to step down, Craig steadfastly resisted resigning for days, contending that he had done nothing wrong and that his only mistake was pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge.

Craig was defiant after the arrest and guilty plea were first reported. “I am not gay. I never have been gay,” he declared Tuesday in Boise, Idaho, with his wife, Suzanne, at his side. He said he had kept the incident from aides, friends and family and later pleaded guilty “in hopes of making it go away.”

Craig, 62, has represented Idaho in Congress for more than a quarter-century and was up for re-election next year. He had not said if he would run for a fourth term in 2008 and was expected to announce his plans this fall.

“It is with sadness and deep regret that I announce it is my intention to resign from the Senate effective Sept. 30,” Craig said, with his wife again at his side and Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter standing behind him.

“For any public official at this moment in time to be standing with Larry Craig is in itself a humbling experience,” Craig said.

Craig was arrested June 11 in a police undercover vice operation in a men’s room at the Minneapolis airport. The arresting officer, Sgt. Dave Karsnia, said in his report that the restroom is known location for homosexual activity.

“I am not gay. I never have been gay,” Craig said at a news conference here Tuesday, a day after his guilty plea became public.

Republicans, worried about the scandal’s effect on next year’s election, suffered a further setback Friday when veteran Republican Sen. John Warner announced he will retire rather than seek a sixth term. Democrats captured Virginia’s other Senate seat from the GOP in the 2006 election.

Otter said Saturday he has not chosen a replacement, although several Republicans familiar with internal deliberations said he favored Republican Lt. Gov. Jim Risch. He called speculation that he has made a choice “dead wrong.”

Otter declined to say when he would fill the seat.

Craig opposes gay marriage and has a strong record against gay rights. He was a leading voice in the Senate on gun issues and Western lands. He chaired the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and was a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, where he was adept at securing federal money for Idaho projects.

A fiscal and social conservative, Craig sometimes broke with his party, notably on immigration, where he pushed changes that many in his party said offered “amnesty” to illegal immigrants. Much of the impetus behind Craig’s push to ease bureaucratic hurdles to immigrant farm workers stemmed from his background as a rancher and the state’s large rural, farming community.

Craig has faced rumors about his sexuality since the 1980s. He has called assertions that he has engaged in gay sex ridiculous.

“I have little control over what people choose to believe,” he said Saturday. “But clearly my name is important to me and my family is so very important also.”

Craig said pursuing legal efforts to clear his name “would be an unwanted and unfair distraction from my job and for my Senate colleagues. The people of Idaho deserve a senator who can devote 100 percent of his time and effort to the critical issues of our state and of our nation.”


  1. keith

    As I noted earlier in another post, this is a witch-hunt if there ever was one.

    Clearly, the good Senator exhibited poor judgment by not challenging his misdemeanor charge if he believed he was truly innocent. To me, that fact alone indicates he is not willing to fight for what he believes in and therefore ought to leave. Such expediency (spelled: “wimpishness”) in Congress is what got our country into the whole Iraq mess in the first place.

    But the legal double standards (spelled “entrapment”) in this case remain glaring and the disturbing message it sends about our government’s ever-more-pervasive surveillance into what goes on in our private lives (all in the name of “protecting us”) is absolutely appalling.

    As Doug noted in another case in an earlier editorial, Senator Craig’s run-in with the Minneapolis airport police is just one more indicator of our government’s growing number of so-called “law enforcement” systems running amok.

    As a direct result, we are fast becoming a repressive police state where FAR too many “law enforcers” now have FAR too much leeway to interpret FAR too many laws that collectively repress our freedoms. It’s gotten to the point that just about everything we do (or don’t do) is now covered by some stupid law (and the need for a lawyer to defend yourself from it) somewhere.

    Think not? Think again. According to the Minnesota law under which the good Senator was charged, simply putting my travel bag in front of an airport bathroom stall (where ELSE am I going to put it?) while doing my business there can now be interpreted by an overzealous, pimply-faced Cop as a “signal” that I wish to engage in “lewd conduct”…an act for which I can apparently be charged with a crime.

    If this isn’t a tactic straight out of the KGB operations manual, I don’t know what is!

    Unfortunately, Mr. Bush’s “war on terror” is also being used by FAR too many governments at all levels as a convenient excuse to add yet MORE repressive laws to the pile (or to eat away at our Constitutional protections from them).

    What’s more, when they are enacted, such laws are often chock full of double standards. Various senior politicians, including some now actively running for President of the United States, have freely admitted to having ongoing extramarital sexual relationships over the years (some with multiple partners!) And that seems to be perfectly OK.

    But let any hint of homosexuality between consenting adults creep into the conversation and the guy is gone in a heartbeat.

    Sadly, the “evidence” brought forth in this case clearly indicates that, besides having too many “law enforcers” with too many laws with which to repress our freedoms, our country is now incrementally regressing back to legal standards based on witch hunts, obvious entrapment, intrusive and constant surveillance, unsupported innuendo and stifling sexual repressiveness similar to the Puritan era of the 1620s…a time when the church WAS the state in our country.

    The bottom line here is that while Senator Craig will soon be gone (and largely forgotten) from the US Senate, the intrusive, conflicting and homophobic laws that he and his like-minded government “busybodies” enacted while he was there will remain on the books and will continue to repress your and my basic freedoms.

  2. adamrussell

    I think that he could not have been convicted based purely on “signals”, had he fought the case. Im pretty sure any court requires more solid proof that he solicited for sex. But he didnt fight it. Perhaps the police just expect and assume that people (that actually are guilty after all) will just plead to a lower offense to bypass the embarrassement of a trial.

  3. Carl Nemo

    People need to get it in their heads that Craig is a “slimeball”! I’ve listened to the detective’s interview and read the report. Craig was trying to solicit sexual gratuities in the men’s room, plain and simple!

    When caught, this slug, flashed his U.S. Senate business card possibly hoping to intimidate the detective. He failed to do so and the detective, to his credit did his job.

    In Craig’s mind, his psychology excludes the possibility he’s homosexual. He’s a U.S. Senator and a “power-freak” who uses male consorts as victims; ie., bottom men! Many people don’t realize that homosexuality is based on an exchange of “power” albeit it consensual or that which is found in the U.S. prison system. No doubt there are many liasons based on true love and affection between partners, but I’d say statistically speaking it’s the exception rather than the rule. Craig is a smug hetero/homosexual “power freak”, plain and simple!

    We don’t need his type in the U.S. Senate or any place that his kind; ie., a men’s room “predator” making law that controls any aspect of our lives.

    Good riddance and I wish we could summarily identify each and every one of these senatorial “slimeballs” and see they get the same summary boot as Craig for whatever their duplicit dalliances might be. I rest my case!
    America is harms way with this level of representation. The electorate needs to become aware, very aware and quit being sucked in by these silver-tongued, devilish pols…!

    Carl Nemo **==

  4. keith

    As I said, Carl, the fact that he was (or wasn’t) a “slimeball” (as you call him) is really beside the point.

    SO WHAT if he (or anyone else) decides to solicit sex with another consenting adult in a public place? Those of us who are now happily married to a member of the opposite sex probably did something similar (we called it “grassing” in a public park) at one time or another in our past. Does that now make all of us guilty of “criminal activity”, too?

    The truth is that heterosexuals can be found almost everywhere engaging in similar solicitous “public” behavior all the time. Yet they aren’t regularly entrapped, dragged up in front of a judge and/or threatened with jail time in order to elicit a guilty plea to a “lesser” charge…at least not yet.

    The ONLY difference here is that Mr. Craig’s supposed “inappropriate behavior” involved a person of the same sex as he. Which, in my mind begs the next obvious question…to whom was his behavior “inappropriate”? Could it be that “inappropriate” is just another word for “legalized prejudice”?

    I’ve always found it fascinating that politicians in the United States can be found guilty of numerous “high crimes and misdemeanors” involving fraud, waste, money laundering, adultery, war crimes, racketeering, kickbacks, or other assorted malfeasance and yet remain in office. They can even be convicted felons (a.k.a Bill Clinton for lying under oath) and still be allowed to serve.

    But let that allegation involve ANYTHING to do with homosexuality, and the “holier than thou” types crawl out of the woodwork and ask for (and get) their heads.

    The truth is that if homosexuality still wasn’t such a HUGE religious “taboo” in our culture, NONE of what Mr. Craig supposedly engaged in while visiting that airport restroom would be news…let alone a “crime”. In fact, what he allegedly did wouldn’t even be considered “inappropriate” in most other civilized countries on the planet.

    That’s because in most other parts of the world, sexual activity (in all of its many forms) between consenting adults is considered a normal and healthy part of being human.

    I keep wondering when enough people in our OWN country are going to finally rise up and expose such homophobic prejudice as nothing more than Puritan-era religious dogma and then accept the stark reality that sexual activity is (horror of horrors!) as much a part of being human as breathing.

    Unfortunately, and for the foreseeable future, I’m afraid we are destined to remain a nation of sexual prudes and bigoted, homophobic hypocrites.

    That’s because, when the next so-called “sex scandal” hits the airwaves, we’ll all once again be salivating over every lewd and juicy detail.

  5. Jerry

    About 95% of all cases are now settled with a guilty plea. Yes, Adam, the police can and do now assume that arrest is as good as guilt. For the most part that’s not really a problem because virtually all of those arrested, that’s about right — the police nowadays are well-trained and for the most part do a very professional job, and they haul in gang-bangers who are very much guilty, so much so that even the gang-bangers realize they should take the plea bargain and admit guilt, because they know they ARE guilty.

    But take a look at Angela Davis’ new book, “Arbitrary Justice — The Power of the American Prosecutor” and you’ll begin to wonder whether even an innocent person, guilty of nothing, would be better off pleading guilty to a lesser charge. Lots of people swear that THEY would never plead guilty if they were innocent, but when faced with legal reality, many people actually do.

    Which brings me to Keith’s point. Just in the last week, some plane (I think in Florida) was delayed because a passenger complained about some other passengers who were — shock! horror! — speaking Arabic, and the offenders were removed from the plane. Absolutely ordinary, innocent behavior (chatting, in this case, or “putting your suitcase against the stall door” instead of balancing it on your head) gets interpreted by law enforcement as proof of guilt. That has to worry a lot of us. Americans have reached the point of being scared of their own shadows, and are considering more and more innocent behavior to be evidence of some ulterior, illegal, immoral purpose.

    “Daddy! That man LOOKED at me!”
    “Mommy! That man said Hello to me!”
    “Those men are speaking ARABIC!”
    “He TAPPED his foot!”
    “That 11-yearold boy DREW a picture of a GUN!” (which earned a kid a suspension from school this week).

    Jeez, America, snap out of it, before these knots you’re tying yourselves in do you all real damage.

  6. Jerry

    Hi Carl,

    I’d disagree with your notion that, ” Many people don’t realize that homosexuality is based on an exchange of “power” albeit consensual” — unless you’re willing to accept that in general Ethel marries Bert in a consensual exchange of power, too. I mean, the traditional marriage arrangement is that the guy becomes Head of the Household, which is a male power trip, isn’t it?

    Or handn’t you plumbed the heterosexual psyche that deep?

    Consider the story of Sodom and Gomorrah as
    somehow justifiable action against homosexuality of any kind. But everyone overlooks the final part of the story.

    There’s Lot and his wife, walking away from the destruction, when Mrs Lot looks back, even though she’s been told not to, and BAM! she gets turned into a pillar of salt.

    The final victim in the story is a woman. A woman who has dared to disobey the command of her husband and that male authoritarian, God.

    It’s not just the homosexuals who get zapped, but women, too, who challenge the male macho setup. Talk about a power trip.

    Not for nothing are we left with the image of a pillar of salt — a large phallic symbol.

    And withing six verses, Lot himself is in bed with his own daughters. But he’s heterosexual so that’s OK — the Bible says so.

    Just a thought.

  7. Carl Nemo

    Thanks Jerry for your thoughts on the subject. My expressed concern is that Craig as a U.S. Senator was involved in the process of passing laws that affect all of our lives regardless of our psycho-sexual proclivities.

    While in office he consistently ruled against any legislation that might have made life a bit better for the gay community. They pay taxes with most conducting their lives in a responsible fashion and deserve positive legislative consideration.

    Larry Craig is nothing but a very flawed, party apparatchik who’s only cleared to march to Bushco’s jody calls. It’s legislators like Craig and others that have gotten America into it’s current fix. He’s a phony-butt, duplicit, political scamster…good riddance!

    Carl Nemo **==

  8. adamrussell

    quote from keith:
    “SO WHAT if he (or anyone else) decides to solicit sex with another consenting adult in a public place? Those of us who are now happily married to a member of the opposite sex probably did something similar (we called it “grassing” in a public park) at one time or another in our past. Does that now make all of us guilty of “criminal activity”, too?”

    It does make you guilty, yes. In fact technically I believe it (indecent exposure) qualifies as a sex crime and if the judge wanted to be tough about it he could require an offender to register as a sex offender.

  9. keith

    Who said anything about “indecent exposure”?

    “Grassing” is defined as simply lying about (clothed!) in a public (or possibly semi-private) place such as a secluded area of a public park…usually on a blanket with one’s significant other close by.

    Likewise, the good Senator was merely talking to someone while doing his business in a public toilet. So far as we know, he didn’t “indecently expose” himself to anyone.

    What’s more, it appears from the police transcript that ALL the allegations of the Senator’s supposed “inappropriate behavior” were based solely on alleged “hand signals” and/or verbal discussions with the undercover Cop as well as where Mr. Craig just happened to place his travel bag in the stall.

    As I’ve said, if such innocuous human behavior is now being routinely construed by law enforcement officers as a “fait accompli” to “indecent exposure” or “inappropriate conduct”, then our Constitutional guarantees against unfair search and seizure (spelled “entrapment”) in this country are in FAR greater danger than first thought!

  10. Carl Nemo

    I thought I’d finally clam-up on this subject, but most people that use public restroom facilities are there to do simply that; ie., take care of their bodily functions. You have a sense of urgency, and most folks with reasonable protective mechanisms can never feel totally comfortable in a public restroom due to the possiblity of predatory co-users. It’s a fact! I operate in condition “yellow” when in public everyday of my life. To not do so, just might get you “done” bigtime. To be alert is to be both savvy and a survivor!

    I sure as hell don’t want to use the restroom with some guy scoping out my equipment in the urinal, or peeking through cracks in the doors of the sit-down facilities. Then we get into second order weirdness of feet touching between stalls and even higher order weirdness of hands, palms-up, palms-down, or whatever the **** they might mean, is truly over-the-top activity from a reasonable persons standpoint that simply wants to use the public facilities for their bodily functions.

    Craig is a creep and based on my research is a “power-freak” that likes using other people, preferably males as his grounding rod, “pun intended” for his rationalized homosexual proclivities.

    People should not have to use public restroom facilities in fear. My hat goes off to the detective and his enforcement organizations effort to suppress this disgusting public facility based activity.

    I’m not anti-gay or into homosexual bashing, but if folks want to enjoy such couplings then they need to engage such activity in the privacy of their own dwellings etc., but not using public facilities for seeking fullfillment for their ever-so-needy proclivities.

    Carl Nemo **==