The senator went to the bathroom on official government business.
It sounds like the first line in a joke, a juvenile one at that.
But all of us who have spent the past five years watching the farce that is the Larry Craig case know better. Weve all learned that the laughable is the serious, the implausible the norm.
In Craigs latest legal shenanigans, the former senator is arguing that its OK that he used $217,000 in campaign money to fight his arrest in a Minneapolis airport restroom because the only reason he was in the airport in the first place was because he was traveling from Idaho to Washington, D.C., on Senate business.
Argues Craigs attorney, Andrew Herman: Not only was the trip itself constitutionally required, but Senate rules sanction reimbursement for any cost relating to a senators use of a bathroom while on official travel.
Since Herman just had to go there, the overgrown junior high schooler in me has to ask: What kind of costs are incurred during a routine trip to a restroom? And what reporter going above and beyond in the name of the publics right to know will file a federal Freedom of Information Act request for the expense forms?
Obligatory bathroom humor aside, lets at least agree that there isnt anything routine about Craigs June 11, 2007, restroom stop. What wasnt routine was Craigs behavior, and it was unrelated to his Senate job. Craig was arrested and accused of soliciting sex, and after the sting, he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.
Craig never consulted with an attorney before he entered his plea. So those who contributed money to Craigs coffers, thinking they were supporting his 2008 re-election campaign, were instead underwriting Craigs long-shot, after-the-fact effort to unring the bell of his guilty plea.
Craig is, of course, entitled to pursue whatever kind of quixotic legal avenue he wishes. But you would hope, in the interest of personal responsibility, Craig would cough up his own money to do it. Thats what the Federal Election Commission believes, which is why the agency is demanding Craig pay back the $217,000, while seeking fines from the former senator and his former campaign treasurer, Kaye O'Riordan.
The punchline in all of this is that, based on precedent, Craigs legal bathroom beagles can actually make a straight-faced, plausible argument. Herman points out that former U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe, facing allegations of improper behavior with male pages, used campaign funds to defend himself and ultimately clear his name.
So maybe Craig, who hasnt been able to win for losing in the courts since June 2007, may have actually stumbled on a winner this time. But is he doing the right and honorable thing? Not even close. If that matters.
And if Larry Craig ever wonders why he has no legacy befitting a 28-year congressional career indeed, it seems, no political legacy at all its because he spends his time and energy fighting petty points like this. Craig is writing his own postscript, one self-interested and bizarre installment at a time.
FROM IDAHO TO KANSAS? A WAYWARD SONS SAGA
According to his social media profiles, or at least some of them, John Gotts is a former Idahoan who is now living in Atchison, Kan., and running as a Republican for a seat in that states House of Representatives.
But a recent article from the Topeka Capital-Journals Andy Marko suggests that Gotts hasnt really moved to Kansas and still is living in Idaho.
Gotts told the Capital-Journal that, indeed, he is in arrears on the rent for his Atchison rental property, and said he hasn't turned on the utilities because he returned to Idaho to wrap up business.
That business, Chumly, is a startup designed to allow users to access several social media sites at a single location. The business made Gotts something of a fixture around the Idaho Statehouse; a number of legislators signed on as Chumly users.
Gotts, meanwhile, has made no secret of his political aspirations although it hasnt always been clear where he intends to pursue them.
Gotts had talked openly on Facebook about running for the Idaho Legislature, although he didnt file for the 2012 elections. On one LinkedIn page, cited by the Huffington Post, Gotts describes himself as a candidate for the Idaho state Senate. But Gotts tells the Capital-Journal that Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback inspired him to move to Kansas to seek office.
So, he moved, right? On his Facebook page, Gotts identifies himself as an Atchison resident. He also lists himself as married; on her Facebook page, Bethany Gotts says she lives in Hailey.
I dont have much to add to this yarn although it is another illustration of why reporters use social media to find out more about candidates, and sometimes find gaps in their stories. As a social media pro, Gotts shouldnt be surprised by that.
Kevin Richert: 377-6437, Twitter: @KevinRichert