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Larry Craig

Larry Edwin Craig (born July 20, 1945) is an American politician from the state of Idaho. As a Republican, he has represented the state of Idaho in the United States Senate since 1991. In addition, Craig served in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Idaho's 1st congressional district (1981–1991). Including his service in the House of Representatives, Craig is the second-longest serving member of the United States Congress in Idaho history, trailing only William Edgar Borah. In addition to serving in Congress, Craig has been a member of the Board of Directors of the National Rifle Association since 1983. Craig has also been selected for induction into the Idaho Hall of Fame. Although he was selected in March 2007, the announcement was made in October 2007.

On August 27 2007 the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call revealed that Craig had been arrested for homosexual lewd conduct in the men's bathroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on June 11 2007, and entered a guilty plea to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct on August 8 2007. As a result of the controversy surrounding his arrest and subsequent guilty plea, Senator Craig announced his intention to resign from the Senate at a news conference on September 1, 2007, which was to become effective on September 30 2007. After failing to withdraw his guilty plea, on October 4, 2007, Craig released a statement refusing to resign as senator for Idaho.

Craig is not running for re-election in 2008.

Early life and family

Craig was born in Council, Idaho, to Dorothy Lenore McCord and Elvin Oren Craig. He grew up on a ranch outside Midvale in Washington County. In 1969 he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Idaho. At the University of Idaho he was student body president and a member of the Delta Chi fraternity. He pursued graduate studies at George Washington University before returning to his family's Midvale ranching business in 1971. Craig was a member of the Idaho Army National Guard from 1970 to 1972, attaining the rank of Private First Class (E3), after which he received an honorable discharge.

Craig married Suzanne Thompson in 1983 and adopted the three children she had from a previous marriage. Through his adopted children, Craig has nine grandchildren.

Political career

Craig was elected to the Idaho Senate in 1974 and reelected in 1976 and 1978.

In 1980, Craig was elected to an open seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Idaho's 1st congressional district. He succeeded Republican Steve Symms, who left the House and was elected to the Senate after defeating Democrat Frank Church. Craig was re-elected four times, serving until 1991. While in the House, he supported President Ronald Reagan's push to expand vocational education.

Allegations of cocaine use and sex with male teenage congressional pages by unnamed congressmen were pursued by investigators and journalists in 1982. Craig issued a statement denying involvement. Craig stated "Persons who are unmarried as I am, by choice or by circumstance, have always been the subject of innuendos, gossip and false accusations. I think this is despicable." Craig served on the House Ethics Committee. In 1989 Craig was reported to have led an extended effort that pushed for more severe punishment of Representative Barney Frank for his involvement in a gay prostitution scandal.

U.S. Senate

Craig announced his candidacy for the 1990 Senate election for the seat vacated by the retiring James A. McClure. Craig defeated Idaho Attorney General Jim Jones in the Republican primary. In the general election he defeated Democratic former Idaho Legislature member Ron J. Twilegar with 57 percent of the vote.

In 1995, Craig formed a barbershop quartet called The Singing Senators with Senators Trent Lott, John Ashcroft, and James Jeffords.

Craig was reelected in 1996, again with 57 percent of the vote, defeating Democrat Walt Minnick. He was reelected again in the 2002 election with 65 percent of the vote, when he spent $3.2 million to defeat Alan Blinken.

In 1999, Craig became sharply critical of U.S. President Bill Clinton for the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Speaking on NBC's Meet The Press, Craig told Tim Russert: "The American people already know that Bill Clinton is a bad boy - a naughty boy. I’m going to speak out for the citizens of my state, who in the majority think that Bill Clinton is probably even a nasty, bad, naughty boy.”

Craig served as Senate Republican Policy Committee chairman from 1997 until 2003. During this time, he exposed Clinton Administration support for Iranian arms shipments to Bosnia and Herzegovina. He then became chairman of the Special Committee on Aging. After the Democrats gained control of the Senate in the 2006 Congressional election, Craig became the ranking member of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs and a member of the Appropriations Committee and the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He served as the ranking member of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee. Amid the controversy surrounding his arrest and guilty plea to charges of disorderly conduct, Craig temporarily stepped aside as ranking member on the Veterans' Affairs Committee and two subcommittees in August 2007.

Craig is a long-time, leading advocate for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the United States Constitution.

In May 2003, Craig put a hold on more than 200 Air Force promotions in an attempt to pressure the Air Force to station four new C-130 cargo planes in Idaho, claiming he received a commitment from the Air Force almost seven years earlier that the planes would be delivered. Defense Department officials said the reason the C-130s had not been sent to Idaho was that no new aircraft were being manufactured for the type of transport mission done by the Idaho Air National Guard unit where Craig wanted the planes delivered.

Craig supports the guest worker program proposed by President George W. Bush. In April 2005, Craig tried to amend an Iraq War supplemental bill with an AgJOBS amendment that would have granted legal status to between 500,000 and one million illegal immigrants in farm work. The amendment failed with 53 votes (60 votes were needed because the amendment was not germane to the underlying bill). A version of the AgJOBS bill legislation was included in the Senate-passed immigration reform bill in 2006. Craig, the principal sponsor of AgJOBS, continues to support amnesty for illegal immigrants who are "trusted workers with a significant work history in American agriculture. This position has been sharply criticized by anti-immigration activists. On June 26, 2007, Craig reiterated his support for the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007.

In October 2005, Craig suggested that flooded sections of New Orleans should be abandoned after Hurricane Katrina had hit and was quoted in a local newspaper as saying that "Fraud is in the culture of Iraqis. I believe that is true in the state of Louisiana as well.

On December 16, 2005, Craig voted against a cloture motion filed relative to the USA PATRIOT Act; the motion ultimately earned only 52 votes, and so a Democratic filibuster against extension of the act (due to expire at the end of 2005) was permitted to continue. On December 21, 2005, Craig backed a six-month extension of the Act while further negotiations took place. On February 9, 2006, Craig announced an agreement among himself, the White House, and fellow Senators John E. Sununu, Arlen Specter, Lisa Murkowski, Chuck Hagel, and Richard Durbin to reauthorize the Act.

In 2006, Craig posted to his Senate website all the earmarks he had inserted into federal spending bills since joining the Senate Appropriations Committee in 1998.

The American Conservative Union rated Craig's 2005 voting record at 96 out of 100 points, while the Americans for Democratic Action rated him at 15 points. Craig supported the Federal Marriage Amendment, which barred extension of rights to same-sex couples; he voted for cloture on the amendment in both 2004 and 2006, and was a cosponsor in 2008. However, in late 2006 he appeared to endorse the right of individual states to create same-sex civil unions, but said he would vote "yes" on an Idaho constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages when pressured to clarify his position by the anti-gay rights group Families for a Better Idaho. Craig voted against cloture in 2002, which would have extended the federal definition of hate crimes to cover sexual orientation. This legislation was passed in 2007 in both the House and the Senate as the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007. Craig voted against the measure. The LGBT advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign issued guides to candidates' voting records in 2004. The Human Rights Campaign group gave him a 0 rating.

Prior to the nomination of Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne, Craig was mentioned as a possible candidate to succeed Gale Norton as United States Secretary of the Interior in March 2006.

Committee assignments

  • Committee on Appropriations
    • Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
    • Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
    • Subcommittee on Homeland Security
    • Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
    • Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans' Affairs, and Related Agencies
  • Committee on Environment and Public Works
    • Subcommittee on Public Sector Solutions to Global Warming, Oversight, and Children's Health Protection
    • Subcommittee on Superfund and Environmental Health
  • Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
    • Subcommittee on Energy
    • Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests
    • Subcommittee on Water and Power
  • Committee on Veterans' Affairs
  • Special Committee on Aging

Idaho Hall of Fame induction

In 2007, Idaho Hall of Fame Association inducted Larry Craig into the Idaho Hall of Fame, despite his well-publicized arrest and guilty plea in an airport sex sting, following the failure to appeal. He had been picked in March 2007, months before the arrest.

2007 arrest and consequences

On June 11, 2007, Craig was arrested at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on suspicion of lewd conduct. The nature of the alleged activity has been categorized by some as cottaging. According to the police report, the police officer sat in a bathroom stall as part of an undercover operation investigating complaints of sexual activity in the restroom. After about 13 minutes of sitting in the stall, the police officer observed Craig lingering outside and frequently peeking through the crack of the door on the stall. Craig then entered the stall to the left of the officer's stall. The police officer made the following observations, which he recorded in his report of the incident, as to what happened next:

At 1216 hours, Craig tapped his right foot. I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct. Craig tapped his toes several times and moves his foot closer to my foot. ... The presence of others did not seem to deter Craig as he moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot which was within my stall area. Craig then proceeded to swipe his left hand under the stall divider several times, with the palm of his hand facing upward.

According to the incident report and criminal complaint filed in court, the officer showed Craig his police identification beneath the partition separating their stalls, and the officer then pointed his finger towards the restroom exit. Craig initially said no, but he ultimately complied with the officer's request to leave the restroom. After Craig and the officer left the restroom, Craig was reluctant to go with the officer and demanded the officer show his police identification a second time. Once the officer complied with the request, Craig, the arresting officer, and a police detective, who was stationed outside of the restroom, went to the airport police station.

After the arresting officer read Craig his Miranda rights, the officer interviewed Craig about the restroom incident. At one point, Craig handed his business card to the arresting officer, which identified him as a U.S. Senator, and said to him, "What do you think about that?" Craig told the officer that he was worried about missing his flight, and the arresting officer asked the police detective to call the airline to hold the flight. The detective reported that no one answered the telephone for the airline, and the arresting officer proceeded with the interview.

According to the arrest report prepared by Sgt. Dave Karsnia, "Craig stated ... He has a wide stance when going to the bathroom and that his foot may have touched mine." Craig never used the term "wide stance" himself. According to the transcript of the police interogation, Sgt. Karsnia asked: "Did you do anything with your feet?" and Craig replied: "Positioned them, I don't know. I don’t know at the time. I'm a fairly wide guy."

When the officer asked Craig about the use of his hands, Craig said that he reached down with his right hand to pick up a piece of paper that was on the floor. The officer disputed Craig's version by saying, "there was not a piece of paper on the bathroom floor, nor did Craig pick up a piece of paper." Craig also disputed the officer's assertion about the position of his hand, claiming that his right palm was faced down as he picked up the paper from the floor. The officer disputed Craig's version, alleging that Craig used his left hand because his thumb, "was positioned in a faceward motion." During the interview and in the incident report, the officer commented that Craig either disagreed with what happened in the restroom or could not recall the events as they happened.

Craig returned to the airport on June 22 to complain about how he had been treated by the police. According to the police report about Craig's return, Craig said he wanted information for his lawyer.

Craig pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct by signing and mailing a plea petition, dated August 1, 2007, to the District Court in Hennepin County, Minnesota. He paid $575, including fines and fees. Senator Craig signed the petition to enter his guilty plea, which contained the provisions, "I understand that the court will not accept a plea of guilty from anyone who claims to be innocent... I now make no claim that I am innocent of the charge to which I am entering a plea of guilty." Craig mailed his signed petition to the court, and his petition to plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge was accepted and filed by the court on August 8, 2007.

Allegations about prior conduct become public

On August 27, 2007 Roll Call broke the story to reveal details about Craig's arrest at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport and his subsequent guilty plea in that case. After the conviction came to light, the Idaho Statesman published a story on August 28, 2007 about three allegations involving Craig's sexual conduct. A college student, who was considering pledging at Craig's fraternity at the University of Idaho in 1967, told a reporter for the Idaho Statesman that Craig led the student to his bedroom and, "made what the man said he took to be an invitation to sex." In the second reported incident, a man, who identified himself as gay, told a reporter that Craig cruised him at the R.E.I. store in Boise in November 1994, following him around the store for half an hour. The last reported incident to the Idaho Statesman about Craig's conduct came from a 40-year-old man with close ties to Republican officials. According to the man's story about the encounter with Craig, the man, "reported having oral sex with Craig at Washington's Union Station, probably in 2004." A reporter for the Idaho Statesman interviewed Craig on May 14 2007 regarding the allegations about his conduct, and in response to the reporter's questions, Craig said, "I'm not gay, and I don't cruise, and I don't hit on men. [...] I don't go around anywhere hitting on men, and by God, if I did, I wouldn't do it in Boise, Idaho! Jiminy!"

Responses to the arrest

Craig told the public that the officer misconstrued his actions, that he was not involved in any inappropriate conduct, and had failed to seek legal counsel: "In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty. I was trying to handle this matter myself quickly and expeditiously. In an August 28 2007 press conference in Boise, Idaho, Craig said:

I am not gay. I never have been gay.... In June, I overreacted and made a poor decision. I chose to plead guilty to a lesser charge in hopes of making it go away.... Please let me apologize to my family, friends and staff and fellow Idahoans for the cloud placed over Idaho. I did nothing wrong at the Minneapolis airport. I did nothing wrong, and I regret the decision to plead guilty and the sadness that decision has brought on my wife, on my family, friends, staff and fellow Idahoans.

Craig claimed that his state of mind was troubled at the time of the guilty plea because he and his family "[had] been relentlessly and viciously harassed" by the Idaho Statesman in the course of its investigation into allegations of Craig's homosexuality and its August 28 article. On August 30, the Statesman called for Craig's resignation. In response to questions about the arrest, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport Police Department released an audiotape of Craig's interview with Sergeant Dave Karsnia, the arresting officer. In that interview, Craig denied wrongdoing and claimed that he was a victim of entrapment.

Craig was one of two Senate liaisons for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, but removed himself from that campaign role after the conviction became public. Romney said of Craig, "He's disappointed the American people." Craig later expressed bitterness about Romney's handling of the incident, saying in an interview with Matt Lauer, "And [Romney] not only threw me under his campaign bus, he backed up and ran over me again.

A Washington watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee requesting an investigation into whether Craig violated Senate Rules of Conduct. Members of the Republican Party in Congress began calling for Craig to resign, including Representative Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), Senator John McCain (R-AZ), and Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN). Coleman and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) announced that they will donate campaign contributions received from Craig's political action committee to charity.

Senate GOP leaders including Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Trent Lott (R-MS) asked Craig to "temporarily step down as the top Republican on the Veterans Affairs Committee, Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior and Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests." Craig subsequently agreed to step down from those posts as the ranking Minority member. Patrick Sammon, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, issued a statement condemning the senator's actions.

Resignation announcement and motion to withdraw plea

At a news conference on September 1, 2007, Craig announced his intent to resign, "with sadness and deep regret", effective September 30, 2007. On September 4 2007, a spokesperson for Craig indicated that he was reconsidering his decision to resign, if his conviction was rapidly overturned and his committee assignments were restored.

On September 10, 2007, Craig's attorneys filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea arguing that it "was not knowing and intelligent and therefore was in violation of his constitutional rights. His lawyers further argued that Craig "felt compelled to grasp the lifeline," hoping that if he were to submit to an interview and plead guilty that none of the allegations would be made public. The motion argues that Craig entered the plea under stress caused by media inquiries into his sexuality. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed an amicus curiae brief stating that the secret sting operation used by the police was not "carefully crafted" to avoid ensnaring innocent speech and that "the defendant should be permitted to withdraw his plea, and, should the state recharge him, to contest the constitutional validity of any prosecution."

Craig's motion hearing to withdraw his guilty plea was held on September 26, 2007 before Judge Charles A. Porter, Jr. Craig’s Washington D.C. attorney, William Martin argued Craig’s actions couldn't be considered disorderly conduct because "you should have either touching, or words, or a combination of the two." The other main argument was made by Craig’s Minneapolis attorney, Thomas Kelly, who argued that the mail-in petition used by Craig was "defective" because it lacked a judge’s signature. On September 26, 2007, Craig released a statement that he would remain in office until the Hennepin County District Court judge has ruled on his motion to withdraw his guilty plea.

On October 4, 2007, Porter denied Craig's motion to withdraw his guilty plea, ruling that Craig's plea was accurate, voluntary, and intelligent, and that evidence supported the conviction. As part of Craig's appeal of this ruling, the ACLU filed a brief that cites a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling from 38 years ago finding that those engaging in sexual encounters in closed stalls in otherwise public restrooms "have a reasonable expectation of privacy" which finding the ACLU believes would contradict the state's claim that Craig was inviting the undercover officer to have sex in "public.

After Porter's ruling, Craig announced that he would serve out his Senate term, despite his pledge to the contrary, to "continue my effort to clear my name in the Senate Ethics Committee — something that is not possible if I am not serving in the Senate. Advisors say that Craig will not seek reelection at the end of his current term. Craig filed a notice of appeal on October 15, 2007 and filed his initial brief on January 8, 2008, arguing that his alleged conduct failed to violate the terms of Minnesota's disorderly conduct law.

If Craig does eventually resign before his current terms ends, Republican Idaho Gov. Butch Otter will appoint an interim senator to serve until the 2008 election. Lt. Gov. Jim Risch has been named by some sources as the person Otter would appoint.

Gay men allege sexual contact with Craig

In December 2007, eight gay men came forward to the Idaho Statesman newspaper alleging either sexual encounters with Craig, or attempts by Craig to engage in sexual encounters. Four of the men gave graphic, recorded details of their alleged sexual encounters to the newspaper. One of the four was Mike Jones, the male escort who in November 2006 was involved in a sex and methamphetamine scandal with Ted Haggard. Jones claims that Craig paid him $200 for a massage and oral sex. A Craig spokesman responded, "Mike Jones is lying in order to sell his book [about Ted Haggard] - plain and simple. Larry has never met Mike Jones."

February 2008 Senate Ethics Committee letter

On February 13, 2008, the Senate Ethics Committee sent a letter of admonition to Craig stating that his "improper conduct" had reflected "discreditably" on the United States Senate. The Committee believed that Craig had indeed committed the actions to which he had pleaded guilty, and that Craig's efforts to withdraw his guilty plea were intended to evade the ramifications of his actions. The Committee reported that Craig had spent $213,000 of campaign funds on legal fees and public relations fees on the case, which it felt showed Craig's disregard of ethics. Campaign funds may only pay legal bills when they are related to the Senator's official duties.

Electoral history

2002 Idaho United States Senatorial Election

Larry Craig (R) (inc.) 65%
Alan Blinken (D) 33%
Donovan Bramwell (Lib.) 2%

1996 Idaho United States Senatorial Election

Larry Craig (R) (inc.) 57%
Walt Minnick (D) 39.9%
Mary J. Charbonneau (I) 2%
Susan Vegors (Natural Law) 1%

1990 Idaho United States Senatorial Election

Larry Craig (R) 61.3%
Ron J. Twilegar 38.7%

1988 Idaho 1st District United States Congressional Election

Larry Craig (R) (inc.) 65.7%
Jeanne Givens (D) 34.3%

1984 Idaho 1st District United States Congressional Election

Larry Craig (R) (inc.) 68.6%
Bill Heller (D) 31.4%

1982 Idaho 1st District United States Congressional Election

Larry Craig (R) (inc.) 53.6%
Larry La Rocco (D) 46.4%

1980 Idaho 1st District United States Congressional Election

Larry Craig (R) 53.7%
Glenn W. Nichols (D) 46.3%

References

External links

Further reading

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