Senator Larry Craig loses airport bathroom misconduct appeal

Kerry Maloney/Idaho Statesman/AP/FILE

Politics is about winners and losers. This year has been especially bad for politics as an occupation.

An Alaska senator was convicted for accepting gifts. A couple of Boston city councilors were caught allegedly taking bribes. The governor of Illinois was arrested allegedly for trying to profit from high office.

No withdrawal

And then there was today's decision by a Minnesota appeals court not to allow U.S. Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) to withdraw his guilty plea to a charge of disorderly conduct at an airport restroom.

The latter case, of course, was huge news a year and a half ago and provided Jay Leno and David Letterman endless amounts of material -- but pretty much ended the career of the Idaho senator, who leaves office at the end of his term in January.


Craig initially pleaded guilty to the charge after being arrested by an undercover police officer for solicitation.

Although Craig didn't verbally solicit an officer, he inappropriately tapped his foot and made hand signals which are apparently code for solicitation.

Not Guilty

After the case became public, Craig changed his mind and asked that his guilty plea (which he was allowed to mail to the court) be withdrawn. But the District Court judge wasn't buying it and denied the request.

So Craig appealed claiming that the Minnesota law violated his freedom of expression.

To which the court replied today, "...foot-tapping and the movement of his foot toward the undercover officer's stall are considered speech, they would be intrusive speech directed at a captive audience and the government may prohibit them."

The court also shot down Craig's appeal that the court should have allowed him to change his mind.

“Appellant has not shown that the district court abused its discretion in denying his petition to withdraw his guilty plea,” the court ruled.


Craig's reaction? Not happy.

"I am extremely disappointed by the action of the Minnesota Court of Appeals," Craig said in a statement. "I disagree with their conclusion and remain steadfast in my belief that nothing criminal or improper occurred at the Minneapolis airport."

He now has the option of keeping his name and the issue in the news cycle even longer by further appealing the decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

"I maintain my innocence, and currently my attorneys and I are reviewing the decision and looking into the possibility of appealing," Craig said in a statement.

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