For a little fun, let’s dig into the FAFO Archives to review one of my all-time favorite FAFO moments, the exposure (ahem) of Larry Craig. Craig was a United States senator from Idaho, a conservative Republican and board member of the NRA, who made a name for himself by being a persistent and vocal opponent of LGBT rights.
Craig was caught with his pants down, literally, at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. On June 11, 2007, Craig unwittingly solicited the attention of an undercover police officer in the next stall who was investigating complaints of sexual activity in the restroom.
After about 13 minutes of sitting in the stall, the police officer observed Craig lingering outside and frequently peeking through the crack of the door on the stall. Craig then entered the stall to the left of the officer’s stall. The police officer made the following observations, which he recorded in his report of the incident, as to what happened next:
At 1216 hours, Craig tapped his right foot. I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct. Craig tapped his toes several times and moves his foot closer to my foot…. The presence of others did not seem to deter Craig as he moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot which was within my stall area. Craig then proceeded to swipe his left hand under the stall divider several times, with the palm of his hand facing upward.
The officer then held his identification below the partition and pointed toward the restroom door. Craig whimpered “No”, but eventually complied and accompanied the officer to the airport police station. While being interviewed, Craig gave his ID identifying himself as a senator and asked the officer, “What do you think about that?”
Asked to explain his playing footsie with the cop, Craig indicated that he had a “wide stance” because he’s a “fairly wide guy”. Asked why he held his hand under the partition, palm up (evidently a standard thing for a sex solicitor to do), Craig explained that he reached down to pick up a piece of paper. The officer stated in his report that there was no paper and nothing was picked up.
Since Craig was nailed (by the evidence, not by the cop), he pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge, paid a $575 fine, and signed a statement as follows: “I understand that the court will not accept a plea of guilty from anyone who claims to be innocent … I now make no claim that I am innocent of the charge to which I am entering a plea of guilty.” Craig mailed his signed petition to the court, and his petition to plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge was accepted and filed by the court on August 8, 2007.
This might have been the end of it, but Craig had other prior allegations of soliciting gay sex in a number of locations including an REI store and Washington’s Union Station. His local paper, the Idaho Statesman, was hot on the trail. About these prior allegations, Craig told the Statesman, “I’m not gay, and I don’t cruise, and I don’t hit on men. … I don’t go around anywhere hitting on men, and by God, if I did, I wouldn’t do it in Boise, Idaho! Jiminy!”
While investigating, the Statesman was able to uncover the airport incident, which resulted in Craig deciding to try to withdraw his guilty plea and this cringey statement to the press:
Three days later, Craig announced his intent to resign from the Senate. Three days after that, he changed his mind. He said he would stay in office until the judge ruled on his appeal to withdraw his guilty plea. A few weeks later, the judge ruled that Craig knowingly and intelligently pled guilty and could not withraw it. Despite losing his appeal, Craig decided to not honor his pledge to resign, and announced he would stay in office for the remainder of his term.
Full disclosure: I had used that same restroom at the Minneapolis airport prior to the Craig incident, but only for prosaic reasons, as I am not gay, never have been gay, and have quite a narrow stance. That restroom has since been demolished because it became something of a tourist attraction.