Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Hold On, Craig Not Sure About Leaving The Senate

A spokesman for Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) confirms he is reconsidering his decision over the weekend to resign his seat in the Senate at the end of this month after public revelations of his guilty plea for disorderly conduct in a public restroom at a Minneapolis-St. Paul airport bathroom where an undercover police officer alleged Craig was cruising for sex. Supportive comments from Sen. Arlen Spector (R-PA) is reportedly causing Craig to reconsider his decision. "The more people take a look at the situation, there may well be second thoughts," said Specter, a former prosecutor. If Craig had not pleaded guilty in August to a reduced charge and instead demanded a trial, "I believe he would have been exonerated," Specter said.

I suspect Specter's legal analysis is correct. If Craig had bothered to consult an attorney in advance, he would have been urged to fight the charge. Craig, however, seemed more concern about shielding the arrest from the public. A legal challenge would have only drawn attention to the case, which went unnoticed by the news media for nearly two months. In the end, the guilty plea became public anyway so he gained nothing by pleading guilty to the charge. The police officer accused Craig of peering into his bathroom stall before entering the one adjacent to his, tapping his foot and running his hand along the divider separating them. The officer interpreted this as an invitation for sex, but Craig denies that was his intention. Regardless, it is doubtful his conduct amounted to a crime of disorderly conduct.

The Star's Dan Carpenter adds an enlightened and entertaining perspective on the Craig arrest in his column today. It will have Micah Clark, Eric Miller and Curt Smith fuming all day. Here's part of what he had to say:

You don't have to be gay, you just need some empathy for fellow human beings, to realize the hell this man is going through over a laughable act that would not even be subject to the deliberations of GOP moralizers if society were grown up about sex.

Lives wouldn't be ruined by meetings between adults in restrooms because they could meet in restaurants. Badges would not be issued to people who get their jollies setting up clueless strangers with bogus offers of sex. Prominent men would not meet other men in restrooms and parks to avoid prying eyes -- at the risk of press clippings.

In such a world, Larry Craig could be a gay gasbag shilling for the gun lobby and timber industry or a straight one, and we would praise or denounce him solely based on our orientation toward guns and trees.

Gay people, in short, would stand in the sunlight as first-class citizens. Vice squads would have to go catch bad guys or take early retirement.

And one more weapon of the police state would be mothballed.

What Larry Craig discovered, after all, is an especially vicious little peculiarity of homophobia. To be discriminated against for being black, you have to be black. To be evicted, fired or arrested for being gay, all you have to be is accused. If they want to do you wrong, you can't prove 'em wrong. Remember Lillian Hellman's classic play "The Children's Hour"? One gay teacher, one straight teacher, one vengeful student, two lives torn apart.

It would be nice to think the departing senator and his former brethren will ponder these ideas in light of Washington's latest sex fiasco, but such a foxhole conversion is unlikely. They owe their ascension, after all, to the very bigotry that rose up to bite Craig on his pious posterior. The day they can't drive gay Americans into those bus stations is the day their "family values" bus runs out of gas.

13 comments:

Sir Hailstone said...

Watching Washington DC news over Labor Day weekend while vacationing in Maryland, I saw Sen. Spector's comments. I was not surprised by the comments, I never would have imagined Sen. Craig taking those comments seriously. It's well known Spector is considered the king of "RINOs" in the Senate. And Sen. Craig was supposedly one of the more conservative senators.

This can only serve as a drag on the GOP in the coming year, even though he is apparently not running for re-election.

Anonymous said...

How does even a municipal court judge ever get a factual basis
for accepting a disorderly conduct
plea, even assuming that everything
the cop said happened did happen?
Either Craig was not truthful with the Judge or at best misled the
Judge, regarding the facts.

Craig may not have been guilty
of disorderly conduct whatever
that requires in Minnesota courts, but was either not 100% truthful with the judge or at best is incredibly dumb/lacks common ense.

Advance Indiana said...

As the police officer explained to Craig during the recorded interview, he could simply pay the ticket and avoid appearing in court just like a speeding ticket. A judge didn't have to decide whether to accept the plea.

Angry Republican said...

You call Senator Specter "King of the RINOs." Well, let me just say that Senator Specter is, frankly, much more of a Republican than many of today's self-annointed guardians to the gates of heaven. The Republican party of today is *nothing* like it used to be, and certainly not the great party it once was. You can call me a RINO too, if you'd like - that's a badge I'd clearly wear with honor, particularly if you lump people like Senators Lugar and Specter into that group. The part used to stand for less government and getting out of people's lives. Where has that party gone to?

As for Senator Craig, it's really sad. After hearing the tape, I can't imagine in 100 years they'd ever get a conviction for that. But, his guilty plea has since muddied the water, and I think he faces an insurmountable task ahead. But, if he truly is not guilty, then I say he should fight it - and if he has to give up his Senate seat, he should.

Remember this: the moral majority is neither.

AR

John said...

Gary,

Look at items four and twelve in the plea agreement that Craig signed:

4. I understand that the court will not accept a plea of guilty from anyone who claims to be innocent.

12. I understand if the court does not accept any agreement stated in number 11 above, I have the right to withdraw my plea of guilty and have a trial.

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2007/0828071craig8.html

The court obviously had to accept the plea agreement.

Anonymous said...

According to two documents at The Smoking Gun, Craig claimed he did contact a lawyer. He returned to the Airport PD for information that he claimed was needed for his lawyer. Both charges Craig was charged with happened. The disorderly conduct law in Minn. seemed pretty broad, much more so than our own law here in Indiana. His actions did violate the disorderly conduct law. As far as the voyeurism/peeping charge, he was guilty as charged. His only way out of that was to basically act like an old man with no common sense who peeps through the cracks to see if someone is in the stall. Craig, and others, are lucky that some folks don't kick those doors right into their face.

Advance Indiana said...

Thanks for the correction. Listen to the audio taped-interview between the officer and Craig. I don't think he explained it to Craig the same way as it is written on the ticket.

Don Sherfick said...

This may be slightly off point in this thread, but I am under the impression that anyone connecting through Minneapolis from Idaho to DC would not ordinarily be using a restroom in the more remote area that the one in which Craig was arrested. Does anyone have any more specific information on this?

Anonymous said...

Regardless how it's written on the ticket, ro how it was explained, two thigns are crystal clear:

1. Craig violated Minnesota's law; and

2. He pled guilty, knowing full-well, on tape and in writing, the consequences. (He is many things, ut Sen. Craig is NOT stupid)

A good friend of mine has been in an Indiana court over this very law (Hoosier version). He was entrapped in public park by an extremely handsome cop-bait, who, according to my friend, exposed himself first. Nonetheless, to avoid humiliation, my friend took a plea agreement, also, that involved a diversion class and probation. In 17 years, it will come off his record, barring other legal altercations.

I know nothing of Sen. Craig's sexual orientation. It makes for incendiary headlines to think he might be closeted, and I suspect he is, but nobody knows for sure.

Now, he's got second thoughts. The original case's legal strength doesn't seem to be at question here; if the senator felt intimidated to sign the plea agreement, or was denied access to counsel, that's a different story.

I listened to the tape. I don't hear intimidation.

Carpenter, as usual, hit the nail on the head. The world he hopes for does not noq exist, precisely because of Craig's ilk. The collateral damage these arrests cause, is widespread. Associated shrappnel often falls on families, business associates and for decades, on the accused himself.

It's an insane system. But Craig's allies hoisted their political futures on this mantle, and pardon me if my conscience or soul cannot find much sympathy for those who live and the sword, but refuse to die by it.

It is all so very, very unnecessary.

donna said...

Minnesota Criminal Code
PUBLIC MISCONDUCT OR NUISANCE:

609.72 DISORDERLY CONDUCT.
Subdivision 1. Crime. Whoever does any of the following in a public or private place,
including on a school bus, knowing, or having reasonable grounds to know that it will, or will
tend to, alarm, anger or disturb others or provoke an assault or breach of the peace, is guilty of
disorderly conduct, which is a misdemeanor:
(1) Engages in brawling or fighting; or
(2) Disturbs an assembly or meeting, not unlawful in its character; or
(3) Engages in offensive, obscene, abusive, boisterous, or noisy conduct or in offensive,
obscene, or abusive language tending reasonably to arouse alarm, anger, or resentment in others.
A person does not violate this section if the person's disorderly conduct was caused by
an epileptic seizure.
Subd. 2.[Repealed, 1969 c 226 s 1]
Subd. 3. Caregiver; penalty for disorderly conduct. A caregiver, as defined in section
609.232, who violates the provisions of subdivision 1 against a vulnerable adult, as defined in
section 609.232, may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than one year or to payment of a
fine of not more than $3,000, or both.

varangianguard said...

to Don Sherfick:

It would depend upon the airline's gate assignment crew up in some office.

I don't know details, but those employees are tasked with facilitating traffic in and out of the available gates based upon some internal criteria set by the airline.

Besides that, I would want to compare the location of the arrest against a MSP airport map.

Anonymous said...

MSP is NorthWorst airline territory. Who was Craig flying on? The other carriers are lumped together and are often estranged in a remote part of the airport terminal together - if I recall the 'other' carriers are even in a different building, but this is all beside the point. If this guy is STUPID enough to plead GUILTY if he didn't do anything he should be kicked out for ignorance.

Jason said...

I'm not a legal beagle, but it would be pretty hard for an appeals court or anyone else to suddenly reject his plea deal wouldn't it? I mean, you can try to set it up while going through the plea proceedings but from what I've seen it's to the point where they absolutely close every loophole possible. Or at least it seems...

He pled guilty to a crime. Even if he was meeting a random woman in that bathroom currying sexual favors from strangers with kids around is horrific, IMHO.