So, Senator Larry Craig — Mitt Romney & DOMA supporter — regrets pleading guilty to lewd conduct in an airport men’s room. That reminds me of Rhett Butler’s line to Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind, “You’re like the thief who isn’t the least bit sorry he stole, but is terribly, terribly sorry he’s going to jail.” (Gimme a break. I’m gay and a southerner. That gives me the right to make as many GWTW references as I want.)
But it seems like the charges in this case would have been pretty easy fight. So why, if Craig pleaded guilty, does he now regret doing so. Why didn’t he fight the charges then?
Craig denied any inappropriate conduct in a prepared statement, and said he now regrets his guilty plea.
“At the time of this incident, I complained to the police that they were misconstruing my actions. I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct,” he said. “I should have had the advice of counsel in resolving this matter. In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty. I was trying to handle this matter myself quickly and expeditiously.”
Congress is currently in recess, and Craig’s office said he was on vacation in Idaho with his family, with no public appearances scheduled.
Craig, 62, paid a $500 fine when he entered his guilty plea on August 8 in Hennepin County Municipal Court in Bloomington, Minnesota, according to state criminal records.
CNN confirmed that Craig was sentenced to 10 days in jail but that sentence was stayed.
Now, granted, there’s some debate to be had about these types of investigation in the first place, and the evidence is somewhat flimsy. It’s just the cop’ statement against Craig’s. Unlike, say, a case involving solicitation of prostitution, there’s no point at which an agreement on payment, an exchange of money, or an agreement to meet somewhere for sex can serve as evidence or confirmation of intent. No money changes hands, and the agreed upon activity would pretty much take place on the spot. So, really, consummation is the only confirmation.
Basically, Craig would’ve had to “do” the officer to end up facing an unbeatable rap. Also, Bruce made an interesting point in a comment on the previous post.
Putting on my lawyer hat, what I find most interesting is that twenty minutes or not much longer after pleading guilty, it seems, Team Craig was braying about how he regrets his guilty plea and denies his guilt. I don’t know Minnesota law or procedure, but in Maryland, if you plead guilty to an offense carrying jail, you have to state in a guilty plea litany that you are pleading guilty because you are, in fact, guilty. Otherwise, it gets thrown out and you stand trial.
It seems to me that had he stood trial, he might perhaps have had a decent chance of getting a not guilty. Somebody tapping his foot? Sounds iffy. I don’t claim to know these things but for a prostitution case, soliciting a swap of money for sex has to be pretty clear. Point being, he could have stood trial. Who was his lawyer – that’s what I want to know.
What I want to know is what else Craig and his lawyer (if he had one, and he almost certainly had one) knew that kept them from fighting these charges. I mean, the rumors about Craig’s past are pretty well known.
Last fall, Craig’s office publicly denied assertions by Internet blogger Mike Rogers that the senator is gay. Craig’s office dismissed speculation about the senator’s sexuality as “completely ridiculous.”
In 1982, Craig denied rumors that he was under investigation as part of a federal probe into allegations that lawmakers on Capitol Hill had sexual relationships with congressional pages, saying the “false allegations” made him “mad as hell.”
He was never implicated in that investigation, which eventually led to ethics charges against two other congressmen.
Now, given Craig’s public record as an upstanding, downright conservative guy — a married father and grandfather, whose 100% records with American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, and the Family Research Council speak volumes — ought to be able to fight charges like these pretty easily. After all, he can’t have done anything like this before….
Or could he? I no lawyer, but if I were one, and I a high profile client like Craig, who had been the subject of rumors in the past, I can imagine one of two scenarios unfolding here:
- I sit my client down in an out-of-the-way office somewhere, close the door, look him in the eye and ask him, “OK, Larry. I don’t want any surprises. What do you know that’s going to come to light if we take this to trial? Anything? Who’s going to crawl out of the woodwork? Because a case like this is gonna get press, and with Larry Flynt offering a million bucks to anyone who got it on with a member of Congress, I don’t want any surprises. So if there’s anything I should know about, Tell me now.
- I already know what’s out there, waiting to crawl out of the woodwork, because I helped get him out of trouble in the past, and made some unsavory situations that could be easily “misconstrued” just go away. So,I sit my client down in an office, close the door, and say to him, “Look, Larry. You know and I know that if this goes to trial, there are any number of guys who could pop up in the media saying they had sex with you in a public restroom or some other cruising spot. And I only know about the situations I had to help you out of. You may know about more than I do, and don’t want to know about them or be surprised by them during a trial. So, let’s just quietly plead this thing away, pay a fine (because any jail sentence will probably be waived in your case) and go on with our lives. OK?
And before we wrapped up the meeting, I’d probably say, “And Larry? Don’t ever do anything like this again. OK?”
Either way, whichever of the above scenarios took place, my guess is that the Senator probably entered a guilty plea because it was the best way to keep other “misconstrued” incidents in his past from finding their way in to court records, or dragged into the media spotlight.