WASHINGTON - Idaho Sen. Larry Craig is being investigated by the Senate Ethics Committee for his conviction in a sex sting, but that hasn't stopped him from attacking the panel's chairwoman over her support for a bill to combat global warming.
Craig, who lost a leadership role on the Senate Environment panel as a result of the sex scandal, said a bill being pushed by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., would cost thousands of jobs and "demonstrate nothing more than her intent to revert the United States to a developing country."
Boxer chairs the Senate Environment committee, as well as the ethics panel. She has scheduled a vote next week on a global warming bill that would impose mandatory cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other industrial facilities.
Craig, a Republican, said in an op-ed piece prepared for Western newspapers that Boxer "hopes to strike a symbolic victory for Europeans everywhere by merely passing a bill out of committee to leave the impression that the United States is ready to follow Europe's lead on climate change."
In addition to raising energy costs, the bill "would export what's left of our manufacturing jobs, all for a negligible and debatable impact on global temperatures," Craig said, calling Boxer's approach "all-pain, no-gain."
A spokesman for Boxer said Craig's comments were nothing new.
"Everything in Senator Craig's statement he has said over and over in the committee," said Peter Rafle, a spokesman for Boxer. "Senator Boxer trusts that the committee will reject his negative way of thinking and adopt a strong climate security bill."
Rafle and Natalie Ravitz, another Boxer aide, declined to comment on her role in the ethics inquiry.
Senate Republicans demanded the ethics investigation after news broke this summer of Craig's August conviction in a sex sting at a Minneapolis airport men's room. Craig first promised to resign Sept. 30, then reversed his decision. He now says he will stay in office until his term expires in January 2009. Craig says he is not running for re-election.
Ravitz said Boxer had no comment "in the context of the Ethics Committee," but said the panel continues to conduct its preliminary inquiry into the matter.
Sidney Smith, a spokesman for Craig, said Craig was "not concerned about criticizing Senator Boxer's stance on climate change," even though she heads the ethics panel.
Boxer and Craig may be able to debate the bill in Bali, where both are scheduled to attend a U.N. conference next week on climate change.