Craig Files Appeal on Guilty Plea

Posted October 15, 2007 at 6:26pm

Embattled Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) requested Monday that a Minnesota circuit court hear his appeal of a recent district court ruling rejecting his effort to throw out his guilty plea stemming from his involvement in a July sex sting operation at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

The procedural move could set up a second round of legal wrangling at the state level, and Craig theoretically could continue to push for appeals all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hennepin County District Court Judge Charles Porter on Oct. 4 dismissed Craig’s initial bid to throw out his guilty plea to one count of disorderly conduct, saying in his ruling: “The Defendant, a career politician with a college education, is of, at least, above-average intelligence. He knew what he was saying, reading and signing.” Porter added that “the Defendant knew or should have known his entrance into Sgt. Karsnia’s stall with his eyes, foot and hand are the type of acts that would ‘tend reasonably to arouse alarm, anger, or resentment in others,’” which is the legal definition of disorderly conduct.

Craig has vowed to continue pursuing legal appeals as well as defending himself in an ethics investigation, which originally was requested by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Craig’s defense attorney, Billy Martin, released a short statement Monday reiterating his client’s claim to innocence and his desire to “clear his name.”

“From the outset Senator Craig has maintained that he is innocent of any illegal conduct at the Minneapolis airport. Senator Craig has a right to appeal and we believe that it was a manifest injustice not to allow Senator Craig to withdraw his guilty plea entered in August. Like every other citizen, Senator Craig has the constitutional right to make every effort to clear his name. Senator Craig is hopeful that the Court of Appeals, after reviewing our arguments, will reverse or vacate Judge Porter’s decision denying his motion,” Martin said.

The motion comes as Craig — despite his GOP colleagues’ hopes and wishes — remains the topic of much discussion not only in Washington, D.C., but also across the country. On Saturday, he was inducted into the Idaho Hall of Fame in a closed-door “celebration,” and NBC is set to air an interview with Craig tonight on national television and again Wednesday morning on the “Today” show.

Details of the interview are slowly leaking out — in the interview, he complains that presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, for whom Craig served as a Senate liaison, “not only threw me under his campaign bus, he backed up and ran over me again,” according to wire services.

Additionally, in a separate interview also airing Tuesday on Idaho station KTVB, Craig maintains his innocence and constitutional right to appeal the decision. During the 72-minute interview, he also says he will remain in the Senate through the end of his term.

Craig, who reportedly has not spoken to McConnell since his return to the Senate in mid-September, has caused fits for his leaders in recent weeks. Several of McConnell’s recent press conferences have been dominated by questions about Craig, so much so that McConnell canceled a press event Oct. 4 that was supposed to be the start of the GOP’s counteroffensive on the children’s health insurance issue.