Home||Politics

Monday: Idaho senator fined for lewd behavior at Minneapolis airport

Photo by Charles Dharapak, Associated Press

Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho.

The Idaho Republican arrested June 11 in an MSP restroom entered a guilty plea Aug. 8.

Last update: August 29, 2007 – 4:17 PM

U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, an Idaho Republican, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in Minnesota this month after being arrested by a plainclothes police officer investigating complaints of lewd conduct in a men's restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Craig denied the police account of what occurred and said he erred in pleading guilty.

"At the time of this incident, I complained to the police that they were misconstruing my actions," he said in a statement Monday afternoon. "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."

Craig was arrested at the airport on June 11, according to Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper. According to police reports, Craig kept watching the undercover police officer through a crack in the bathroom stall, Roll Call reported. Craig then entered the next-door stall and placed his luggage against the opening under 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," said the officer, Sgt. Dave Karsnia.

The report continued: "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."

The report said that Craig swiped his hand beneath the stall divider several times and that Karsnia showed his police identification under the stall.

Roll Call reported that Craig was detained about 45 minutes and questioned by officers at the Airport Police Operations Center. At one point, police reports said, Craig handed the arresting officer a business card that identified him as a U.S. senator and said, "What do you think about that?"

Roll Call reported that a Craig spokesman said the incident is a "he said/he said misunderstanding." Craig denied any lewd intentions and told police he has a "wide stance" in the bathroom and reached down to pick up a piece of paper from 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," Karsnia wrote in the police report.

According to the report, Minneapolis airport police have made "numerous arrests regarding sexual activity in the public restroom."

Craig's arrest was confirmed by Nancy Peters, a spokeswoman for the Hennepin County courts. Peters confirmed the Roll Call report that said Craig pleaded guilty Aug. 8 to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge. Craig was fined $1,000 and sentenced to 10 days in jail, Peters said. However, the 10-day sentence was stayed for a year, meaning that Craig avoids jail time unless he is rearrested on a similar charge within a year.

Peters said Craig paid $575 of the fine and won't have to pay the $425 balance as long as he meets the terms of his year-long probation, which will be unsupervised.

Craig, 62, is married and in his third term in the Senate. Craig hasn't said if he plans to run for a fourth term in 2008.

Craig has been one of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's top Senate supporters, serving as a Senate liaison for the campaign since February. As word spread of Craig's guilty plea, a Romney campaign spokesman, Matt Rhoades, said in a statement: "Senator Craig has stepped down from his role with the campaign. He did not want to be a distraction and we accept his decision."

Subscribe