Larry Craig

Larry Craig Biography.com

U.S. Representative(1945–)
Larry Craig was a U.S. senator from Idaho who was involved in drug and sex scandals, announced his resignation, then quickly recanted.

Synopsis

Larry Craig was born July 20, 1945 in Council, Idaho. In 1974 he was elected to the Idaho state senate. He was re-elected twice before running successfully for Congress in 1980. His first public scandal erupted in 1982. Craig was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1990, then re-elected in 1996 and 2002. In 2007, his career took a disastrous turn when he was arrested on suspicion of lewd conduct.

Early Life

U.S. Senator. Born July 20, 1945 in Council, Idaho to Dorothy McCord and Elvin Craig. Larry Craig was raised on the family ranch outside Midvale, Idaho, where he attended the one-room South Crane School. As a boy, Craig was active in Future Farmers of America, was a prize-winning speechmaker, and sang in the high school choir.

Craig went on to the University of Idaho, where as president of Delta Chi fraternity he earned the nickname "Mother Craig" for his concern over the state of the fraternity house and enforcement of study and conduct rules. He was a natural leader at Idaho, becoming student body president and earning the Donald R. Theophilus Outstanding Senior Award at his 1969 graduation.

Burgeoning Political Career

His political career began in 1974, at the age of 28, when he was elected to the Idaho state senate. He was re-elected twice before running successfully for Congress in 1980, representing Idaho's 1st congressional district. Craig's first public scandal erupted on June 30, 1982, when a former congressional page publicly alleged that, at the age of 17, he had used cocaine and had sex with three House members, whom he refused to name. The next day, Craig issued a pre-emptive statement saying that he had been contacted by reporters and was denying all involvement in the scandal. "Persons who are unmarried as I am, by choice or by circumstance, have always been the subject of innuendos, gossip and false accusations," Craig said at the time. "I think this is despicable." He was the only member of Congress to issue such a statement about the scandal. The House Ethics Committee investigated the story, but later found it to have no merit.

Six months later, Craig proposed to Suzanne Thompson, whom he had been dating since 1980. They married in July 1983, and Craig adopted her three children.

Elected to the U.S. Senate

Craig was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1990, then re-elected in 1996 and 2002. He developed a reputation as an effective senator and a vigorous fighter for conservative causes. He spoke out memorably against President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, telling Tim Russert of Meet the Press that "the American people already know that Bill Clinton is a bad boy, a naughty boy. I'm going to speak out for the citizens of my state, who in the majority think that Bill Clinton is probably even a nasty, bad, naughty boy."

Controversy

On June 11, 2007, Craig's career took a disastrous turn when he was arrested on suspicion of lewd conduct in a men's room at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. In an interrogation afterward, Craig denied the arresting officer's charges that he had engaged in a series of gestures in the restroom commonly used by men seeking anonymous sex. In one notable exchange, the officer said that Craig had intentionally bumped his foot against the officer's under the stall divider. Craig denied that the touch was unintentional, insisting, "I'm a fairly wide guy. I had to spread my legs when I lower my pants so they won't slide." This "wide stance" defense later became fodder for late-night comedians.

Craig pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. The story of his plea broke in late August 2007, at which point the Idaho Statesman newspaper ran a lengthy article detailing accusations that Craig had had relationships with several men over the years. Craig denied that he was gay or that he had solicited sex in the airport, saying, "I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct . . . In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty. I was trying to handle this matter myself quickly and expeditiously."

More Allegations

On September 1, 2007, Craig announced that he would resign from the Senate, a decision he quickly recanted. Instead, Craig filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, which was later denied by the courts. Craig never resigned from the U.S. Senate, which admonished him for improper conduct. He did not seek re-election, and left office when his term expired on January 3, 2009.

Though more men have since come forward alleging sexual encounters with Craig, he has continued to deny the rumors. "I've been in this business 27 years in the public eye here," he told the Idaho Statesman. "I don't go around anywhere hitting on men, and by God, if I did, I wouldn't do it in Boise, Idaho! Jiminy!"

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