Sen. Larry Craig Hits on Male Cop in Restroom

Senator Larry Craig apparently likes to make creepy advances on strange men in airport bathrooms. Unfortunately for him, one of his random targets was a Minneapolis airport policeman.

Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was arrested in June at a Minnesota airport by a plainclothes police officer investigating lewd conduct complaints in a men’s public restroom, according to an arrest report obtained by Roll Call Monday afternoon.

Craig’s arrest occurred just after noon on June 11 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. On Aug. 8, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in the Hennepin County District Court. He paid more than $500 in fines and fees, and a 10-day jail sentence was stayed. He also was given one year of probation with the court that began on Aug. 8.

A spokesman for Craig described the incident as a “he said/he said misunderstanding,” and said the office would release a fuller statement later Monday afternoon.

After he was arrested, Craig, who is married, was taken to the Airport Police Operations Center to be interviewed about the lewd conduct incident, according to the police report. At one point during the interview, Craig handed the plainclothes sergeant who arrested him a business card that identified him as a U.S. Senator and said, “What do you think about that?” the report states.

Craig was detained for approximately 45 minutes, interviewed, photographed, fingerprinted and released, and police prepared a formal complaint for interference with privacy and disorderly conduct.

According to the incident report, Sgt. Dave Karsnia was working as a plainclothes officer on June 11 investigating civilian complaints regarding sexual activity in the men’s public restroom in which Craig was arrested. Airport police previously had made numerous arrests in the men’s restroom of the Northstar Crossing in the Lindbergh Terminal in connection with sexual activity.

Karsnia entered the bathroom at noon that day and about 13 minutes after taking a seat in a stall, he stated he could see “an older white male with grey hair standing outside my stall.” The man, who lingered in front of the stall for two minutes, was later identified as Craig. “I could see Craig look through the crack in the door from his position. Craig would look down at his hands, ‘fidget’ with his fingers, and then look through the crack into my stall again. Craig would repeat this cycle for about two minutes,” the report states.

Craig then entered the stall next to Karsnia’s and placed his roller bag against the front of the stall door. “My experience has shown that individuals engaging in lewd conduct use their bags to block the view from the front of their stall,” Karsnia stated in his report. “From my seated position, I could observe the shoes and ankles of Craig seated to the left of me.” Craig was wearing dress pants with black dress shoes.

“At 1216 hours, Craig tapped his right foot. I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct. Craig tapped his toes several times and moves his foot closer to my foot. I moved my foot up and down slowly. While this was occurring, the male in the stall to my right was still present. I could hear several unknown persons in the restroom that appeared to use the restroom for its intended use. The presence of others did not seem to deter Craig as he moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot which was within my stall area,” the report states. Craig then proceeded to swipe his hand under the stall divider several times, and Karsnia noted in his report that “I could … see Craig had a gold ring on his ring finger as his hand was on my side of the stall divider.”

Karsnia then held his police identification down by the floor so that Craig could see it. “With my left hand near the floor, I pointed towards the exit. Craig responded, ‘No!’ I again pointed towards the exit. Craig exited the stall with his roller bags without flushing the toilet. … Craig said he would not go. I told Craig that he was under arrest, he had to go, and that I didn’t want to make a scene. Craig then left the restroom.”

[…]

In October 2006, Craig’s office publicly denied allegations that he was a homosexual made on a gay activist Web site — blogactive.com. Craig’s office told the Spokane Spokesman-Review that the charge was “completely ridiculous,” saying that the allegations had “no basis in fact.”

Next time I fly in to Minneapolis, I’m definitely going to avoid using the restroom if this kind of thing is so common as to require the detailing of police in the stalls. Yikes!

Otherwise, I’m not sure what to say about Craig’s conduct that hasn’t been covered by the 500 or so bloggers already on this one. A sampling:

  • Joe Gandelman wins the preliminary Best Headline prize with, “Airport Restroom Arrest Stalls Senator Larry Craig’s Career.”
  • Greg Sargent has a statement from Craig claiming he pled guilty without seeking the advice of counsel. If so, then he’s an idiot as well as a creep. He also has a bonus flashback of Craig telling Larry King, “Bill Clinton is a bad boy, a naughty boy.”
  • BooMan thinks Craig may be a wee bit hypocritical, having “voted for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.” In his defense, though, Craig’s actions weren’t those of a man looking for a steady relationship.
  • Jeff Fecke wonders, “all Craig is really guilty of is signaling quietly that he was interested in engaging in sexual activity. Why in God’s name is that a crime?” I’m thinking this is a “time, place, and manner” issue. It’s not a crime to go up to a stranger in a coffee shop and flirt. Reaching under the stall uninvited . . . crossing a line.[UPDATE: Thoreau agrees but helpfully suggests, “maybe he had been planning to woo guys with some nice gifts, but the TSA had already confiscated his bottles of wine and cologne.”]
  • Mark Kleiman wonders why this is news, figuring lying, hypocrisy, and the waste of police resources are yawners. He is, however, upset by the abuse of power in handing over his Senate business card. But, actually, lying and hypocrisy — and, oh yeah, criminal conduct — on the part of elected policymakers is newsworthy.
  • Jay Tea thinks the media focuses too much on gay criminal Republicans from 2006 while downplaying all the gay criminal Democrats from the 1960s and 1980s.
  • Minneapolis resident Scott Johnson notes it’s only “the men’s room located in the Northstar Crossing” that needs to be avoided, not all of them in the airport.
  • Alex Parene wishes the cop had let this play out a little longer.
  • Orin Kerr has decided to close the comments thread on this one.
  • Ed Morrissey wonders, “How long before Craig checks himself into rehab or finds Jesus?” His two-sentence summary of the case is pretty funny, too: “Larry Craig, the Republican Senator from Idaho, paid a visit to Minneapolis in June, and apparently wanted the full tour of the Twin Cities. He went from the airport men’s room to the hoosegow by the most direct route after attempting to importune an undercover police office.”
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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. markm says:

    Heh, I read somewhere this morning that somebody was questioning if Craig had purchased some h-mo sex offsets.

  2. Triumph says:

    It seems like Larry is being dragged through the mud by the liberal media. This is a clear case of entrapment. What people fail to point out is that the police officer who allegedly “caught” Larry is a political operative for Minnesota Democrat senate candidate Al Franken.

  3. NoZe says:

    Maybe he can go to Ted Haggard’s therapist and get cured!

  4. Michael says:

    If he goes to rehab, $20 says he claims alcoholism and being abused as a child.

  5. legion says:

    Michael,
    Careful, $20 goes a long way these days; just ask Bob Allen…

    But seriously, this is becoming a truism: anyone who rails about the influence of homosexuality _is_ a closeted homosexual. Bet on _that_.

  6. Kent says:

    But seriously, this is becoming a truism: anyone who rails about the influence of homosexuality _is_ a closeted homosexual. Bet on _that_.

    See the post on “Hasty Generalization.”

  7. Richard Gardner says:

    Regardless of the specifics of the crime, the whole arrest issue is troubling under the US Constitution – and in my view, was itself an illegal act.

    Art I, section 6:

    They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

    Checking the Congressional Schedule, I see the Senate was in session in June.

    The Founders had good reason to give Legislators this privilege. When a Congressman says “You can’t arrest me,” that is the truth.

  8. Michael says:

    When a Congressman says “You can’t arrest me,” that is the truth.

    What….The…..F…..

    I’m pretty sure the founder had no intention of giving immunity to senators to solicit homosexual activity with anonymous strangers in public restrooms.

  9. M. Murcek says:

    Here in PA, this “bathroom kabuki” reportedly became such a problem at interstate rest stops that the state police cracked down on it. Then the action reportedly moved to bathrooms in state parks. The truly creepy part is, let’s face it, this is all about strangers soliciting (sex with) other strangers in the toilet. How romantic…

  10. Richard Gardner says:

    I’m pretty sure the founder had no intention of giving immunity to senators to solicit homosexual activity with anonymous strangers in public restrooms.

    I am pretty sure that is what the Founders intended, as a general case. It is called Congressional Immunity. The rationale behind this is to prevent the executive branch, or the states, from detaining legislators. For example, to prevent Maryland from detaining Northern Congressmen that passed through the state before a vote on slavery in 1840. If it isn’t a felony or treason, or breach of the peace, they can’t be arrested

  11. James Joyner says:

    I’m pretty sure the founder had no intention of giving immunity to senators to solicit homosexual activity with anonymous strangers in public restrooms.

    But whether that matters depends on whether you’re a textualist or Intent of the Framers guy!

    But, no, the Privilege here is very, very limited as construed by the Supreme Court. From Can Cynthia McKinney be Arrested?

      According to FindLaw, though,

      This clause is practically obsolete. It applies only to arrests in civil suits, which were still common in this country at the time the Constitution was adopted. 376 It does not apply to service of process in either civil 377 or criminal cases. 378 Nor does it apply to arrest in any criminal case. The phrase ”treason, felony or breach of the peace” is interpreted to withdraw all criminal offenses from the operation of the privilege. 379
      ——–
      [Footnote 376] Long v. Ansell, 293 U.S. 76 (1934).

      [Footnote 377] Id., 83.

      [Footnote 378] United States v. Cooper, 4 U.S. (4 Dall.) 341 (C.C. Pa. 1800).

      [Footnote 379] Williamson v. United States, 207 U.S. 425, 446 (1908).

  12. legion says:

    See the post on “Hasty Generalization.”

    Well, let’s see… Larry Craig, Bob Allen, Dave Drier, Ralph Gonzalez, Ted Haggard…

    It may be a generalization, but it’s by no means hasty.

  13. Michael says:

    Ed Morrissey wonders, “How long before Craig checks himself into rehab or finds Jesus?”

    Lets just hope he doesn’t find Jesus in the stall of a public restroom, that could get…awkward.