Larry Craig

Sen. Craig will resign only if he fails to withdraw his guilty plea

WASHINGTON — Sen. Larry Craig sought the dismissal of a Senate ethics committee complaint today and relayed word that he will resign his seat only if he fails to withdraw a guilty plea stemming from an airport men’s room sex sting by Sept. 30.

“He said he is going to try and get the case in Minnesota dismissed,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate Republican leader, telling reporters he had heard from the Idaho lawmaker earlier in the day.

McConnell spoke several hours after Craig’s lawyers appealed to the ethics committee to dismiss the complaint against him, saying it stemmed merely from personal conduct, and did not relate to his official duties.

The Idaho conservative was arrested in a men’s room of the Minneapolis airport on June 11. An undercover police officer stationed in the restroom said Craig had exhibited behavior consistent with seeking sex.

Craig’s defiance — he announced on Saturday he intended to resign on Sept 30 — left Republican leaders quietly dismayed.

McConnell twice declined to answer when asked whether he believes Craig should quit his seat. “My view remains what I said last Saturday. I thought he made the difficult, but correct decision to resign. That would still be my view today,” he said.

McConnell told reporters that Craig had told him that if he fails to have his guilty plea dismissed by Sept. 30, “it is his intention to resign from the Senate.”

If he does win the dismissal of the guilty plea, “it would be his intention to come back to the Senate to deal with the ethics committee case … and try to finish his term.”

It was not clear when Craig’s attorneys intended to file papers in Minnesota to have his plea withdrawn. The senator pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct on Aug. 1.

McConnell and the rest of the Republican leadership last week asked the ethics committee to look into Craig’s case, part of a concerted effort to push him into resignation.