Craig vows to stay in office even after judge denies his motion to withdraw guilty pleaby Elizabeth Stawicki, Minnesota Public Radio
Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, says he won't resign even though a Hennepin County judge ruled against him on Thursday. Judge Charles Porter denied Craig's request to throw out a guilty plea to a disorderly conduct charge in connection with a Minneapolis airport arrest. Craig said earlier he'd stay in office until Porter ruled. Now the senator says it's possible for him to work in Congress effectively, and he'll serve out the rest of his term.
Minneapolis — Hennepin County Judge Charles Porter said Craig's guilty plea should stand because it was accurate, voluntary, intelligent and supported by the evidence. Craig argued that peering through a crack in a bathroom stall and using hand and foot gestures was not criminal. Therefore, any guilty plea was invalid because a person cannot plead guilty to an action that is not a crime.
Porter disagreed, finding Craig intentionally entered the undercover police officer's stall with his eyes, hands and feet, proving that Craig violated the officer's right to privacy.
"Porter even cites a case that a person in a toilet stall with the door shut has a reasonable expectation of privacy, that's the standard in our society," said University of Minnesota law professor Steve Simon. "When you violate that by peering into the stall, that's an invasion of privacy and even the lesser crime of disorderly conduct."
Metropolitan Airports Commission spokesman Pat Hogan said the commission was pleased with the ruling. The statement said the decision continues to hold Sen. Craig accountable for his conduct in a Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport restroom in June.
Porter's ruling caps a fitful series of events that began with Craig's arrest in June. When his arrest became public last month, Craig announced he'd resign by Sept. 30. But then he announced he was going to court to withdraw his guilty plea and would wait to resign until Porter ruled. After Porter issued his ruling, Craig said in a written statement that he'll stay on and continue to clear his name in the Senate Ethics Committee.
"This isn't over until Larry Craig says it's over," said Jasper LiCalzi, who heads the department of political economy at Albertson College in Caldwell, Idaho. LiCalzi says Craig has shown that he's immune to pressure from Republican colleagues to leave the Senate.
"Other than the Senate expelling him, which would be extraordinary, especially for what he's done, there's no way for him to leave," LiCalzi said. "He's the one who has to say, 'it's over; I'm out' and that's when we'll know."
A spokesperson for Idaho's governor said the governor has chosen a replacement for Craig in the event that Craig resigns. Craig's attorney said he's considering an appeal of Porter's ruling.
- All Things Considered, 10/04/2007, 5:20 p.m.