Senate Ethics Committee Admonishes Craig

The Senate Ethics Committee officially admonished Idaho Sen. Larry Craig Wednesday, almost six months after the Republican was arrested in a Minneapolis airport restroom for lewd conduct.

In a letter signed by all six members of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, the members affirmed the initial guilty plea that Craig signed after an undercover officer in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport arrested him in a men's room sting.

"The committee accepts as proven your guilty plea and all matter set forth in your guilty plea," the letter read.

In the official ruling, the senators also cast doubt on Craig's later pleas of innocence after the arrest report was unearthed.

"Your claims to the court, through counsel, to the effect that your guilty plea resulted from improper pressure or coercion, or that as a legal matter, know what you were doing when you pled guilty, do not appear credible," said the letter.

In addition, the committee members berated Craig for attempting to use the influence of his office to avoid arrest and failing to notify the panel that he had used $213,000 in campaign funds to pay his legal fees, a violation of Senate rules. Campaign funds can only be used to pay legal bills related to a lawmaker's official duties.

The letter included unusually stern language for the Ethics panel, not normally known for its tough treatment of colleagues.


"We consider your attempt to withdraw your guilty plea to be an attempt to evade the legal consequences of an action freely undertaken by you - that is, pleading guilty," said the letter.

The Ethics Committee released the letter late Wednesday as most lawmakers and reporters were headed to the annual dinner sponsored by the Washington Press Club Foundation.
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