Craig controversy rumbles on
Events surrounding anti-gay Republican senator Larry Craig, who resigned last Saturday following an arrest for lewd conduct in a public bathroom, continue to develop as Washington remains awash with rumour and speculation about the controversy.
Media reports are suggesting he may reconsider his resignation if cleared of the charges, while his legal team simultaneously fight to cancel the guilty plea he made following the arrest.
Meanwhile, a visit from two of his children last week led to an extended interview on ABC where they stressed their father was not gay and said he was disappointed at the lack of support shown by his Republican colleagues.
The, in a separate development, the only openly gay state governor in American history, James E. McGreevey, came out in support of the embattled senator.
Mr Craig’s resignation was encouraged by national Republican leaders, worried the scandal could taint the party as a whole.
The party has been beset by sex scandals over the last year and, combined with historically low presidential approval ratings, party strategists had become nervous.
But the Idaho senator’s spokesman, Dan Whiting, told CNN Mr Craig may yet reverse his resignation.
While his resignation is set for September 30th, “he is fighting these charges and should he be cleared before then, he may – I emphasise may – not resign.”
Mr Craig’s adult children confirmed the family was hurt by the lack of support shown to him by former colleagues.
Shia Howell, his daughter, told ABC’s Good Morning America: They “made their decision and formed their opinion about it without even talking to my dad so that was a little frustrating and disappointing.”
She and Michael Craig are said to have asked their father several pointed questions about the incident.
“Maybe it wasn’t sexual intercourse, but were these sexual actions? Were there sexual feelings? All these terrible things that were said in the media, we asked all those tough questions,” Michael Craig said.
“I don’t want to have an answer based on a legality or technicality or semantics of the words.
“We wanted to know exactly what happened and after speaking to our dad, we know exactly what happened.”
The children said they believed the former senator’s word when he said he was not gay, but stressed they didn’t care if he was homosexual or not.
“It would matter to my mom, but gay or straight, that part doesn’t matter,” Michael Craig continued.
“It was a matter of an accusation of a lewd, immoral, illegal act.”
Pushed on why their father might have pleaded guilty, both children echoed their father’s justification.
He “was just trying to resolve a little problem and he thought it was probably something resulting in something fairly minor,” Michael Craig said.
“I think he knows he screwed up.
“We’ve known him our whole life. He has been so trustworthy to us, so honest to us, that we believe him,” he concluded.
Their father could also look to former political opponents for support.
Former Democratic governor of New Jersey, James E. McGreevey, who left office after admitting to an extra-marital affair with a male colleague, wrote a message of encouragement to Larry Craig in the Washington Post.
“My gut wrenched when I read of senator Larry Craig’s bathroom arrest,” he wrote.
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“I remembered my own late-night encounter with the law at a Garden State Parkway rest stop following a political dinner in north Jersey.
“I pulled into the rest stop, parked my car, flashed my headlights, which was ‘the signal,’ and waited.
Glancing in my rear-view mirror, I saw a state trooper approaching. I desperately tried to convince the trooper of my innocence, showing him my former prosecutor’s badge, a gift from the office when I left,” he said.
“The trooper radioed his office and returned. ‘I never want to see you here again,’ he said. I survived for another day.
“I was in my late 20s. It would be another 25 years before my parallel lives collided and I was coerced out of the ‘closet.'”
Senator Craig was arrested in a sting operation in a public toilet in Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in June of this year.