Sen. Larry Craig insisted today "I am not gay" and lashed out at the Idaho Statesman for a "witchhunt" that led him to plead guilty to a disorderly conduct charge — a plea he hoped would make the charge go away.
Meanwhile, newly released police records of the bathroom incident that led to Craig's arrest show that Craig revisited the Minneapolis airport 11 days later to complain about how he had been treated by police. He said he wanted information so his lawyer could speak to someone, according to a police report.
Craig said Monday that he did not seek legal counsel before deciding to plead guilty to disorderly conduct. Today, Craig said he has hired a lawyer to advise him what to do next.
Craig was arrested June 11 by an undercover police officer who said Craig made a sexual advance toward him in an airport men's room near Minneapolis.
He held a nationally televised news conference today in Boise, but did not talk specifically about what happened in the men's room and did not take questions.
"I overreacted and made a poor decision," Craig said.
Craig said he still planned to announce next month his decision on whether to run again in 2008.
“Please let me apologize to my family friends and staff, and fellow Idahoans, for the cloud placed over Idaho,” he said. “I did nothing wrong and I regret the decision to plead guilty and the sadness that decision has brought on my family, friends, staff and fellow Idahoans, and for that I apologize.”
“I chose to plead guilty to a lesser charge in hopes of making it go away,” he said. Not seeking counsel was “a mistake and I deeply regret it.”
Craig said his state of mind was troubled then because of an Idaho Statesman investigation into rumors circulated by a blogger and published by many other papers in the state. The paper printed nothing until news of Craig's arrest became public Monday.
Craig said he and his family “have been relentlessly and viciously harassed by the Idaho Statesman.” He called the Statesman investigation a “witch hunt.”
“Let me be clear,” he said. “I am not gay, I never have been gay.”
“I love my wife, my family, I care about friends and staff and Idaho, I love serving this great state,” he said. “There are still goals I would like to accomplish and I believe I can still be an effective leader for this state.”
He said he had made a mistake when he pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge earlier this month. "I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct," he said.
Craig also apologized to his family, friends, staff and Idahoans this afternoon regarding his disorderly conduct charges.
Managing Editor, Bill Manny defended the Statesman's reporting.
"As our story today demonstrated, we followed leads and asked questions. We worked hard and behaved responsibly, not publishing a story until it was ready. We didn’t print anything until the senator pleaded guilty. Our story outlined what we’ve done and it speaks for itself."
After his June 11 arrest, Craig revisited the Minneapolis airport June 22 to complain about how he had been treated by police. His spokesman said he was on his way to Idaho from Washington D.C., a trip he takes through the Minneapolis airport most Fridays when Congress is in session.
He stopped at the police operations center and told the on-duty officer, Adam Snedker, that it had been over a week since his arrest and no one had contacted him. According to the police, the senator told the officer that ”he was involved in an incident where he was “drug down to this office” where he was handcuffed, fingerprinted and interviewed.”
He wanted information about who to contact so that his lawyer could speak with someone, according to the report.
The on-duty officer patched him through to the officer who had arrested him, Sgt. Dave Karsnia, who told Craig the name, phone number and prosecutor assigned to the case.
“It should be noted that contrary to what Craig stated to Officer Snedker, I did not handcuff Craig on the date of the offense even though he was under arrest,” Karsnia wrote in his report.
Snedker said in his report that “even though I did the best to answer his questions,” Craig was not friendly and “appeared agitated and demeaning.”