FEBRUARY 15, 2008
Silent for nearly a year in the case of a disgraced lawmaker who solicited sex in an airport bathroom, the Senate Ethics Committee has finally issued a scathing admonition involving the shameful incident.
Missing in action since last year, the bipartisan ethics panel blasted Idaho Senator Larry Craig for his scandalous bathroom escapade at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport last June. The veteran Republican lawmaker tapped his feet and swiped his hand under a bathroom stall in a way that signaled he wanted sex with the man next to him, which happened to be an undercover officer.
Craig got arrested and tried flashing his U.S. Senate business card to entice officers to release him. They didn’t budge, however, and the senator eventually pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct though he has vigorously tried to withdraw the plea since the incident became public.
For nearly a year the Senate Ethics Committee has silently watched the embarrassing events unfold in Craig’s case, even as he desperately argued before the Minnesota Court of Appeals late last year that the hand signal he used to communicate a desire to engage in sex is constitutionally protected.
In a three-page admonition letter sent to Craig this week, the Senate panel wrote that the legislator’s actions constitute “improper conduct which has reflected discreditably on the Senate” and that his attempt to withdraw his guilty plea was an effort to evade legal consequences for his own actions.
The committee’s six members—three Democrats and three Republicans—told Craig that they believed he committed the offense to which he pled guilty and that he entered the plea knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently.
Craig also came under fire from the ethics committee for using nearly a quarter of a million dollars in campaign funds to pay for his mounting legal fees and public relations work. Future use of campaign money for legal bills will be seen as a continued disregard of ethics requirement, the panel wrote. Craig’s actions have already proven he has no regard for ethics.
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