Craig still claims he’s not gay

US Republican Senator Larry Craig, who pleaded guilty after a police sex sting operation in an airport bathroom, Monday denied a new flurry of gay sex allegations in his home state newspaper.

The Idaho Statesman on Sunday named four men who said they had sex with Craig, or to whom it said he made sexual advances or paid unusual attention. It added the allegations could not be “disproved.”

The paper said the men were telling their stories because they are offended by Craig’s staunch denials that he is gay.

But Craig, who tried unsuccessfully to have his guilty plea in the sting operation in Minneapolis airport in June withdrawn, vehemently denied the claims.

“It is unfortunate that the Idaho Statesman has chosen to continue to lower itself to the standards of what can best be described as tabloid journalism,” said Craig, adding that the allegations have “no basis in reality.”

“In fact, the paper itself states that these baseless accusations contain no definitive evidence yet they still decided to print them anyway.

“I won’t let this paper’s attempt to malign my name stop me from continuing my work to serve the people of Idaho.”

Craig had earlier said that he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge, for which he was fined and received a year’s probation, in a bid to hush up the affair, which rocked the Republican establishment.

He initially said he would resign if he was unable to clear his name, but remains in the Senate. However he is not expected to seek reelection next year.

Craig’s resignation had been encouraged by Republican leaders worried the scandal would taint all 2008 candidates from the socially conservative party which has faced a string of sex and corruption scandals over the past three years.

The police officer who arrested Craig said the senator had used a series of gestures to invite a sexual encounter, while in a stall in the men’s restroom at Minneapolis-St Paul airport.