Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Craig Says He Will Stay

Posted By and on Tue, Aug 28, 2007 at 4:00 AM

In a public statement issued this afternoon, U.S. Sen. Larry Craig vowed to stay in office, but says he has retained legal counsel regarding his June arrest. Responding to the Idaho Statesman’s story published on the front page this morning, Sen. Craig called the story a witch hunt, and repeatedly denied that he is gay.

“I want to put my state of mind into context on June 11,” Craig said as he addressed a mob of local and national media in front of the Wells Fargo building in downtown Boise. “For eight months, leading up to June 11, my family and I have been relentlessly, and viciously harassed by the Idaho Statesman.

“Let me be clear. I am not gay. I never have been gay. Still, without a shred of proof or evidence to the contrary, the Statesman has engaged in this witch hunt.”

Since yesterday when news broke that Craig was arrested in a Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in June on lewd conduct charges, Craig’s political future has remained uncertain. Craig pled guilty to a charge of misdemeanor disorderly conduct on Aug. 8 and paid more than $500 in fines and fees. A 10-day jail sentence was stayed, and he was given one year of probation.

Flanked by his wife and top advisors, Craig apologized for what he called an “overreaction.”

“I overreacted and made a poor decision,” he said. “While I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct at the Minneapolis Airport, or anywhere else, I chose to plead guilt to the lesser charge in hopes of making it go away.

“I did not seek any counsel, either from an attorney, staff, friends or family. That was a mistake, and I deeply regret it. Because of that, I have now retained council and I am asking counsel to review this matter and advise me on how to proceed.”

After a slow walk to a podium, bristling with microphones, Craig apologized for “the cloud placed over Idaho.”

“As an elected official I fully realize that my life is open for public criticism and scrutiny, and I take full responsibility for a lapse in judgement I made in attempting to handle this matter myself,” Craig said. “It is clear though, through my action, I have brought a cloud over Idaho, and for that I seek and ask the people of Idaho to forgive me.”

Dressed in a casual, short-sleeved button-down shirt, Craig said the stress of the ongoing, and publicly known Statesman investigation was to blame for his guilty plea and for keeping the arrest quite for more than two months.

“I should not have kept this arrest to myself. I should have told my family and my friends about it,” he said. I wasn’t eager to share this failure, but I should have anyways, because I am not gay.”

Craig said he still plans to announce whether he will run for re-election next month, but would not elaborate any further.

“There are still goals I would like to accomplish and I believe I can still be an affective leader for our state,” he said.

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