Larry Craig

Our View: Sen. Craig owes Idahoans an explanation

Sen. Larry Craig has spent 27 years in Congress — with rumors about his sexual orientation following him almost from the outset.

Now, after the report of Craig's arrest at a Minnesota airport restroom, Idaho's senior senator must speak candidly with the people who have hired him for more than a quarter of a century. He owes this to voters — no matter how difficult that may be for him and for his family. And voters owe Craig a chance to explain himself.

Craig was arrested on June 11 by a plainclothes officer investigating lewd conduct complaints, the Washington, D.C., newspaper Roll Call reported Monday. According to Roll Call, which obtained a police incident report, Craig's behavior signaled that he wished to engage in lewd conduct. Craig pleaded guilty on Aug. 8 to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct; he paid more than $500 in fees and fines and was sentenced to one year's probation. A 10-day jail sentence was stayed.

This bizarre case now moves into the court of public opinion, where Craig has a lot of explaining to do:

Craig says, in hindsight, he should not have pleaded guilty and "should have had the advice of counsel in resolving this matter." On the surface, it seems implausible that any educated professional — much less an elected official — would face criminal proceedings without hiring an attorney.

This suggests an inexcusable abuse of power. Craig was elected to represent Idaho's interests in the Senate — not to use the title of U.S. senator in his own self-interest during a police interrogation.

Yes, we have pointed questions, as many Idahoans surely do. But there's a difference between asking hard questions and making snap judgments. We ask Idahoans to await the answers before passing judgment.

We are sad for Craig's family, and yes, for Craig. This is a painful time, made worse by the fact that Craig so far has been less than forthcoming. And his statement Monday, at a spare and vague 56 words, raises more questions than it answers.

Eight times since 1980, Idaho voters have elected Craig to Congress, five times to the House and three times to the Senate. In exchange, voters now deserve the full story from their senior senator.

"Our View" is the editorial position of the Idaho Statesman. It is an unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Statesman's editorial board. To comment on an editorial or suggest a topic, e-mail