It was eight years ago today that Sen. Larry Craig's congressional career ended up in the toilet.
On Aug. 27, 2007, Roll Call's John McArdle went up with a story detailing how the Idaho Republican had been arrested on June 11 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport by a plainclothes cop "investigating lewd conduct complaints in a men’s public restroom." He later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct on Aug. 8 in Hennepin County District Court, paid $500 in fines and fees, was sentenced to a 10-day jail term that was stayed and given one-year probation.
"It was the strangest day of my political reporting career," McArdle, now producer and host of C-SPAN's "Washington Journal," told HOH. McArdle was able to secure the arrest documents quickly through the use of a courier service, and then, after getting comment from Craig's office, went forward with the story.
The senator has denied anything untoward was afoot, claiming he simply had a "wide stance" in the men's room and had inadvertently mimicked commonly understood actions indicating an interest in a restroom conjugal visit.
Craig's spokesman told McArdle the whole thing was a "he said/he said misunderstanding," unfortunate wording considering the allegations, and the incident effectively ended the lawmaker's congressional career. But the incident continues to linger in the legal system.
Craig used campaign funds for his legal defense, which the Federal Election Commission has argued is a no-no. The case, which has worked its way through the courts for years, will get some play on Oct. 7 at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Last year, a lower court argued Craig should repay the Treasury $242,533 that the Craig Committee paid, plus a $45,000 penalty.
Craig and his lawyers say the former lawmaker has suffered enough. The five-term House member and three-term Senate member, who did not seek re-election in 2008, founded New West Strategies in 2009.
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