When in Doubt, Blame the Press

Posted September 10, 2007 at 6:54pm

Lawyers for Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) on Monday formally asked a Minnesota court to annul a plea deal the Senator copped after being swept up in an airport bathroom sex sting earlier this summer. [IMGCAP(1)]

In court papers, famed criminal defense lawyer Billy Martin argued that Craig caved in to unfounded charges after being harassed and stalked for months by the Idaho Statesman.

The state’s largest newspaper, Martin said, was aggressively hunting down rumors Craig was gay but was hesitant to pull the trigger without hard-and-fast proof.

“The Senator had reason to believe that, without corroborating evidence, the Statesman would not publish these false and unproven allegations,” the lawyer wrote.

Martin said that in a panic, his client clung to a “lifeline” offered by the arresting officer, agreeing to be interviewed by police and pleading guilty to a lesser charge. In exchange, Martin wrote, “then none of the officer’s allegations would be made public.”

“Rather than seek legal advice from an attorney to assist him in publicly fighting these charges and potentially protract the issue, Sen. Craig’s panic drove him to accept a guilty plea, the terms of which offered him what he thought was a private, expeditious resolution of this matter,” according to court papers.

Craig’s June arrest and subsequent Aug. 8 plea bargain were not made public until reported by Roll Call two weeks ago. Craig has announced his intention to resign his seat on Sept. 30 but has left open the possibility of serving out the remainder of his term if he is able to reverse his guilty plea.

Boost of Blue. The 32-year-old lobbying boutique Timmons and Co. has added some Democratic firepower to its team. Erin Graefe, who worked for nearly a decade for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee including a stint as finance director, is joining as a vice president from the all-Democratic firm Glover Park Group.

“For me, she’s the perfect choice — a seasoned lobbyist with the experience and contacts of a senior Hill staffer,” said Timmons Chairman Rich Tarplin, a veteran of the Clinton administration. Timmons’ clients include the American Medical Association, Chrysler and Visa. Graefe, whose father is lobbyist Fred Graefe, also previously worked at the Harbour Group.

— Matthew Murray and Kate Ackley