Idaho Republican Did Nothing 'Inappropriate,' But Pleaded Guilty

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:32 PM EDT

( - "I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct," says Sen. Larry Craig, a conservative Idaho Republican, who pleaded guilty earlier this month to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge stemming from "lewd conduct" in a Minneapolis airport bathroom.

A plainclothes police officer arrested Craig, after the senator -- from an adjacent bathroom stall -- apparently signaled his desire to have sex with the officer, by touching the officer's foot with his own foot and using hand signals underneath the stall partition.

"At the time of this incident, I complained to the police that they were misconstruing my actions," Craig said in a message posted on his website Monday afternoon. He kept quiet about the arrest and his Aug. 8 plea deal until Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, broke the story.

"I should have had the advice of counsel in resolving this matter," Craig said. "In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty. I was trying to handle this matter myself quickly and expeditiously."

Craig is married and has three children, but rumors about his sexual inclinations are nothing new in Washington.

Still, the news of his arrest irked homosexual activists: What's up with elected officials like Senator Craig?" asked Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

"They stand for so-called 'family values' and fight basic protections for gay people while furtively seeking other men for sex. Infuriating pathetic hypocrites. What more can you say?"

Craig supported both the Federal Marriage Amendment as well as Idaho's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

He does not support so-called "hate crimes" legislation, which seeks to give lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people special rights.

According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Craig has even refused to pledge that his own office will not discriminate against LGBT people.

Foreman also criticized the sting that caught Craig misbehaving: "And by the way, why are Minneapolis tax dollars being used to have plainclothes police officers lurking idly in airport restroom stalls?" Foreman asked in a message on his website.

The sex scandal now enveloping Sen. Craig may have repercussions for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. Romney earlier this year asked Craig to serve as one of his "Senate liaisons" and as a leader of his Idaho campaign.

"Senator Craig has stepped down from his role with the [Romney] campaign. He did not want to be a distraction and we accept his decision," Romney spokesman Matt Rhoades told the Washington Post Monday night.

The Romney campaign reportedly has removed a YouTube video of Craig as well as other references to him.

Craig is not the only Republican lawmaker accused of hypocrisy stemming from homosexual conduct.

One year ago, Rep. Mark Foley, a Florida Republican, resigned following news reports that he sent sexually explicit Internet messages to at least one underage male page. Foley didn't deny it: "I am deeply sorry and I apologize for letting down my family and the people of Florida I have had the privilege to represent," he said at the time.

But when former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, a Democrat, was forced out of the proverbial closet in 2004, homosexual advocacy groups praised his courage under pressure, even though McGreevey, as governor, had opposed same-sex marriage.

(See Related Story)

Subscribe to the free daily E-Brief.

Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.