Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) announced Thursday that he would remain in the Senate and finish his current term, despite a Minnesota judge’s denial of his request to withdraw his guilty plea to misdemeanor charges related to a sex sting in a Minneapolis airport restroom.
“I am extremely disappointed with the ruling issued today,” Craig said in a statement posted on his official Web site. “I am innocent of the charges against me. I continue to work with my legal team to explore my additional legal options.”
Craig added that he “will continue my effort to clear my name in the Senate Ethics Committee — something that is not possible if I am not serving in the Senate.
“When my term has expired, I will retire and not seek reelection. I hope this provides the certainty Idaho needs and deserves.”
Following Roll Call’s revelation that he was arrested in June for allegedly signaling an undercover airport police officer for sex, Craig said he intended to resign on Sept. 30, but he later said he would await the outcome of his legal case.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has said Craig’s original intent to resign was the right decision, canceled a Thursday afternoon media availability following release of the judge’s order because he did not want to take questions on Craig, a Senate GOP source said.
Hennepin County District Court Judge Charles Porter rejected all of Craig’s lawyers’ arguments that Craig was intimidated by arresting officer Sgt. Dave Karsnia, did not know what he was signing when he signed a guilty plea to a disorderly conduct charge, and that the evidence was insufficient to support a guilty plea, among other things.
“The Defendant, a career politician with a college education, is of, at least, above-average intelligence. He knew what he was saying, reading and signing,” Porter wrote in his ruling.
In regard to Craig’s argument that he felt pressure to plead guilty because of Karsnia’s interrogation tactics and to keep the arrest out of the public eye, Porter said that pressure “was entirely perceived by the defendant and was not the result of any action by the police, the prosecutor or the court.”
Porter wrote that Craig’s admission — even in his petition to withdraw his plea — that he had peered into Karsnia’s stall, entered another stall, tapped his foot and moved it into Karsnia’s stall, and ran his hand under the wall of the bathroom stall, undermined his case. Karsnia wrote in the original police report that Craig’s activities were known signals men use to solicit each other for sex in public restrooms.
Porter said, “The Defendant knew or should have known his entrance into Sgt. Karsnia’s stall with his eyes, foot and hand are the type of acts that would ‘tend reasonably to arouse alarm, anger, or resentment in others,’” which is the legal definition of disorderly conduct.