GOP Senator Arrested, Pleads Guilty Following Incident in Airport Restroom

update at bottom

Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) appears to have had an interesting early summer, according to Roll Call: The publication just came into possession of an arrest report that recounts allegedly questionable behavior from a member of the supposedly moral side of the legislative aisle.

An excerpt:

Craig’s arrest occurred just after noon on June 11 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. On Aug. 8, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in the Hennepin County District Court. He paid more than $500 in fines and fees, and a 10-day jail sentence was stayed. He also was given one year of probation with the court that began on Aug. 8.

A spokesman for Craig described the incident as a “he said/he said misunderstanding,” and said the office would release a fuller statement later Monday afternoon.

After he was arrested, Craig, who is married, was taken to the Airport Police Operations Center to be interviewed about the lewd conduct incident, according to the police report. At one point during the interview, Craig handed the plainclothes sergeant who arrested him a business card that identified him as a U.S. Senator and said, “What do you think about that?” the report states.

Craig was detained for approximately 45 minutes, interviewed, photographed, fingerprinted and released, and police prepared a formal complaint for interference with privacy and disorderly conduct. …

Sgt. Dave Karsnia was working as a plainclothes officer on June 11 investigating civilian complaints regarding sexual activity in the men’s public restroom in which Craig was arrested. …

Karsnia entered the bathroom at noon that day and about 13 minutes after taking a seat in a stall, he stated he could see “an older white male with grey hair standing outside my stall.”

The man, who lingered in front of the stall for two minutes, was later identified as Craig.

“I could see Craig look through the crack in the door from his position. Craig would look down at his hands, ‘fidget’ with his fingers, and then look through the crack into my stall again. Craig would repeat this cycle for about two minutes,” the report states.

Craig then entered the stall next to Karsnia’s and placed his roller bag against the front of the stall door.

“My experience has shown that individuals engaging in lewd conduct use their bags to block the view from the front of their stall,” Karsnia stated in his report. “From my seated position, I could observe the shoes and ankles of Craig seated to the left of me.”

Craig was wearing dress pants with black dress shoes.

“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. I moved my foot up and down slowly. While this was occurring, the male in the stall to my right was still present. I could hear several unknown persons in the restroom that appeared to use the restroom for its intended use. 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,” the report states.

Craig then proceeded to swipe his hand under the stall divider several times, and Karsnia noted in his report that “I could … see Craig had a gold ring on his ring finger as his hand was on my side of the stall divider.”

Karsnia then held his police identification down by the floor so that Craig could see it.

“With my left hand near the floor, I pointed towards the exit. Craig responded, ‘No!’ I again pointed towards the exit. Craig exited the stall with his roller bags without flushing the toilet. … Craig said he would not go. I told Craig that he was under arrest, he had to go, and that I didn’t want to make a scene. Craig then left the restroom.”

In a recorded interview after his arrest, Craig “either disagreed with me or ‘didn’t recall’ the events as they happened,” the report states.

Craig stated “that he has a wide stance when going to the bathroom and that his foot may have touched mine,” the report states. Craig also told the arresting officer that he reached down with his right hand to pick up a piece of paper that was on the floor.

“It should be noted that there was not a piece of paper on the bathroom floor, nor did Craig pick up a piece of paper,” the arresting officer said in the report.

Last year, the senator denied being gay after Internet rumors started circulating about Craig (actually, NewWest reports that people have been wondering aloud about Craig’s supposed affairs with men for more than a decade), as does Jonathan Martin’s blog at Politico.com, which notes that a “mad as hell” Craig first shot down gay rumors on national news in 1982. (Martin says be sure to watch the final 30 seconds of the video.)

And in a statement made this afternoon, Craig had this to say:

“At the time of this incident, I complained to the police that they were misconstruing my actions. I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct. I should have had the advice of counsel in resolving this matter. In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty. I was trying to handle this matter myself quickly and expeditiously.”

In his role as legislator, Craig, once a rancher now called the third most conservative senator by Progressive Punch, focuses on issues important to agriculture-centered Idahoans. He’s a fiscal conservative who supports business and farming issues over environmental concerns, fights for the preservation of Second-Amendment rights (he’s a big supporter of the National Rifle Association), cheerleads for the PATRIOT Act, and spends much of his time working to promote adoption and family issues (though he has opposed anything providing health care to poor families). He also voted against hate-crimes laws, voted to pass the anti-GLBT Defense of Marriage Act and backed the so-far unsuccessful Bush-approved scheme to write discrimination into the US Constitution via the Federal Marriage Amendment, and supported, according to Irregular Times, “82 percent of a slate of conservative, wrongheaded policies in the 109th Congress.”

Update: The Boston Globe reports that as a result of this “misunderstanding,” Craig opted to withdraw from his co-chair job on the Romney for President Idaho Leadership Team late in the evening of Aug. 27. The campaign has since pulled from public view a YouTube video clip of Craig praising Romney for his “family values” agenda.


A wee bit of editorializing: Personally, we don’t care if Wide Stance Craig is gay. That’s between him and his spouse, and of course, we think being gay or bi or het or whatever you truly are is great (if you are honest with your significant other[s], opposite-gender or otherwise, about your activities and predilections). What concerns us is the senator’s dismissal of poor people’s concerns, his willingness to rape the land if it benefits the business bottom line, his apparent contempt for protecting his constituents’ civil liberties, and his hypocrisy. GDPR opposes outing with one exception: If you do harm to gay people and work against gay people and are gay or engaging in gay behavior (whatever the hell that means), your constituents — including your spouse — deserve full disclosure. (And while it seems that most of these poor, misguided souls hail from the Republican Party, you’ll find some on the Democrat side as well. I’m thinking of one DoMA-supporting Dem in particular right now who is still riding high in the US Senate and still firmly closeted, though this closeted coward fools very few people. A special place in Hell is reserved for this double-talking lawmaker, whom I have not supported since 1994.)

We end with a link to a commentary on Craig and his fellow GOP family-values trouble squad in The Nation: The GOP’s Bathroom Problem

What’s up with Republican politicos getting arrested by undercover cops for soliciting sex in public restrooms? First, Florida state representative Bob Allen, formerly John McCain’s state campaign co-chair, was arrested in July after he offered a police officer $20 for the privilege of performing oral sex. And today, news broke that back in June, Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho), long the subject of gay rumors, was arrested in a Minnesota airport by a plainclothes cop investigating lewd conduct in the men’s bathroom. Both men are married–to women. …

Post-arrest, Allen, appealing at once to homophobia and racism, mounted a “black (gay) panic” defense. You see he wasn’t really interested in giving head, he was just trying to save his neck. Apparently, the cop was “a pretty stocky black guy” and “there were nothing but other black guys around in the park.” Fearing he was “about to become a statistic,” Allen did what any other, rational, straight (straight!), white man would do if he just so happened to find himself cruising a public restroom full of black men: fork over a Jackson and drop to your knees.

Less hysterical, but equally flimsy, is Craig’s story. Through his spokesman, Craig said that the whole incident was just a “he said/he said misunderstanding.” Last year, when gay blogger Mike Rogers alleged that Craig had engaged in same-sex relations, Craig called the story “absolutely ridiculous, almost laughable.” I wonder if Craig was laughing on August 8–when he plead guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges in a Minnesota County Court.

Of course, both Republicans have a long history of support for anti-gay legislation–in Craig’s case votes for the Federal Marriage Amendment and in Allen’s a court brief against gay adoption and authorship of a failed bill to ratchet up penalties for “unnatural and lascivious acts.”

Read the rest; the author makes some very insightful points about homophobia, the mainstreaming of queerness, and how totally messed up it is that Bob Allen would rather be known as a racist than as a gay man.

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