Larry Craig

Senate GOP leaders call for ethics committee review on Craig

Larry Craig's arrest photo.
Larry Craig's arrest photo.

Senate Republican leaders call for an ethics committee review of the case involving Idaho GOP Sen. Larry Craig.

And an ethics watchdog group based in Washington has asked that the U.S. Senate look into whether Idaho Sen. Larry Craig's arrest on disorderly conduct charges violated the Senate's rules of conduct.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has asked that the Senate Ethics Committee investigate Craig's June arrest on suspicion of lewd activity and his subsequent guilty plea to a charge of disorderly conduct. The Idaho Republican was arrested June 11 by a plainclothes police officer who was investigating complaints of lewd conduct in the men's bathroom at the Minneapolis airport.

The Senate ethics manual provides that certain conduct may be improper even though it does not violate specific Senate rules or regulations, said Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director.

"If pleading guilty to charges stemming from an attempt to solicit an undercover officer in a public restroom is not conduct that reflects poorly upon the Senate, what is?" Sloan said.

Sloan's group also has called for investigations into other Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Ted Stevens, the Alaska lawmaker whose home was raided by federal agents last month. Stevens is under investigation for his ties to an oil services company.

Bryan Fischer, the executive director of the Idaho Values Alliance, called for Craig to step down, saying the facts of the case and the senator’s guilty plea to a charge of disorderly conduct suggest Craig in fact was, as the officer said, seeking a homosexual alliance.

“It strains credulity to think that the senator can provide an explanation for his guilty plea if he did nothing more than accidentally brush someone’s foot with his shoe and pick up a piece of paper off the floor,” Fischer wrote on the alliance’s Web site today.

News outlets from Washington and Boston started calling the Statesman as soon as the news about Craig broke Monday afternoon. And shortly after, e-mails to the Statesman editor began to arrive, with some calling for Craig’s resignation.

“I have been very happy with the manner in which he has voted and served in the U.S. Senate,” said a letter from Aaron Book of Nampa. “However, given his recent conduct I have come to the conclusion that his public position is important enough to call for him to resign.”

Letters to the Statesman have poured in from around the country, none of them in support of Craig. Craig’s guilty plea shows he agreed with the police report, said Lois Seaquist of Boise. The title of the story about Craig’s arrest, Seaquist wrote to the editor, should read: “Sen. Craig Pleads Guilty to Illegal Activity & Now That He’s Caught Regrets Action.”

Fischer, too, said he received a good deal of correspondence: “I received approximately five dozen e-mails and phone calls from homosexuals and gay sympathizers from all over the country yesterday afternoon and evening,” he said. “The one thing they all shared in common was an unseemly glee over the senator’s apparent fall from grace.”

Erika Bolstad: (202) 383-6104. Anne Wallace Allen: 377-6433

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