WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Republican U.S. senator confirmed on Monday that he had pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct earlier this month after he was arrested in June in a men‘s’ toilet at a Minnesota airport.
Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho was arrested by a plainclothes police officer investigating complaints of lewd conduct in the men’s public restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, according to a police report cited by the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call.
In a carefully worded statement, Craig gave no details of the incident that prompted his arrest on June 11 but confirmed that he had pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.
“At the time of this incident, I complained to the police that they were misconstruing my actions. I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct,” Craig said in a statement.
“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.”
Craig, a married father of three, paid more than $500 in fines and fees related to the misdemeanor charge and was given one year of probation, Roll Call reported.
According to the police report, Craig entered a bathroom stall next to the police investigator, placed his bag against the front of the door and tapped his foot in a gesture commonly used to try to pick up men in public toilets.
“I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct,” Roll Call wrote, quoting the investigator in the police incident report.
Craig is in his third term and up for re-election next year. He is a former member of the Senate’s Republican leadership and played an active role in the 1998 impeachment of former President Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal.
Democrats currently have an effective a 51-49 majority in the Senate.
In a June 2006 Senate vote, Craig voted in favor of an amendment to the Constitution to define marriage in the United States as a union between one man and one woman. The amendment was defeated by one vote.
Craig is a strong advocate for the rights of gun owners. He has a close association with the National Rifle Association and at one time sat on its board of directors.
In October last year a gay rights activist claimed in a Web log that Craig had had several gay relationships. Craig’s office denied it, saying the allegations were “completely ridiculous” and had “no basis in fact.”
Craig’s troubles follow an admission earlier this month by one of his conservative Republican colleagues, Sen. David Vitter of Lousiana, that he had committed a “very serious sin” after his number was found in the telephone records of a woman accused of running a Washington prostitution ring.
Additional reporting by Rick Cowan and Chris Wilson