'My Own Private Idaho'
GOP Leaders Ask Ethics Probe of Craig
Tuesday August 28, 2007 9:31 PM
By MATTHEW DALY
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate Republican leaders called for an ethics committee review Tuesday into Idaho Sen. Larry Craig's guilty plea in a police sting operation this summer in an airport men's room.
Republican leaders also are ``examining other aspects of the case to see if additional action is required,' Sen. Mitch McConnell and other top GOP lawmakers said in a written statement.
They released the statement shortly before Craig's scheduled appearance before television cameras in Boise, his first public comments since confirming his guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
WASHINGTON (AP) - A private watchdog group filed an ethics complaint against Sen. Larry Craig Tuesday following the Idaho Republican's guilty plea to misdemeanor charges stemming from complaints of lewd conduct in a men's room.
Craig arranged an afternoon appearance in Boise to address the issue. Aides said he would not answer questions.
The conservative three-term senator, who has represented Idaho in Congress for more than a quarter-century, is up for re-election next year. He hasn't said if he will run for a fourth term in 2008 and is expected to announce his plans this fall.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint with the Senate ethics committee seeking an investigation into whether Craig violated Senate rules by engaging in disorderly conduct.
Craig, who has voted against gay marriage, finds his political future in doubt in the wake of the charges, which have drawn national attention.
A spokesman, Sidney Smith, was uncertain late Monday if Craig's guilty plea in connection with an incident at the Minneapolis airport would affect his re-election plans.
``It's too early to talk about anything about that,' Smith said.
A political science professor in Idaho said Craig's political future was in jeopardy. And a spokesman for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, Hannah August, said Craig's guilty plea ``has given Americans another reason not to vote Republican' next year.
Craig said in a statement issued by his office Monday that he was not involved in any inappropriate conduct.
``At the time of this incident, I complained to the police that they were misconstruing my actions,' he said. ``I should have had the advice of counsel in resolving this matter. In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty. I was trying to handle this matter myself quickly and expeditiously.'
The married Craig, 62, has faced rumors about his sexuality since the 1980s, but allegations that he has engaged in gay sex have never been substantiated. Craig has denied the assertions, which he calls ridiculous.
The arrest changes that dynamic, said Jasper LiCalzi, a political science professor at Albertson College of Idaho in Caldwell, Idaho. He cited the House page scandal that drove Florida Rep. Mark Foley from office.
``There's a chance that he'll resign over this,' LiCalzi said. ``With the pressure on the Republican Party, he could be pressured to resign. If they think this is going to be something that's the same as Mark Foley - the sort of 'drip, drip, drip, there's more information that's going to come out' - they may try to push him out.'
Already Craig has stepped down from a prominent role with Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. He had been one of Romney's top Senate supporters, serving as a Senate liaison for the campaign since February.
``He did not want to be a distraction and we accept his decision,' said Matt Rhoades, a Romney campaign spoke