Larry Craig

For the American football player, see Larry Craig (American football).
Larry Craig
United States Senator
from Idaho
In office
January 3, 1991  January 3, 2009
Preceded by Jim McClure
Succeeded by Jim Risch
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Idaho's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1981  January 3, 1991
Preceded by Steve Symms
Succeeded by Larry LaRocco
Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging
In office
January 3, 2003  January 3, 2005
Preceded by John Breaux
Succeeded by Gordon Smith
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs
In office
January 3, 2005  January 3, 2007
Preceded by Arlen Specter
Succeeded by Daniel Akaka
Personal details
Born Larry Edwin Craig
(1945-07-20) July 20, 1945
Council, Idaho
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Suzanne Thompson
Residence Eagle, Idaho[1]
Alma mater University of Idaho, George Washington University
Occupation Rancher
Religion Methodist[2]
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Army National Guard
Years of service 1970–1972
Rank Private First Class
Unit Idaho National Guard

Larry Edwin Craig (born July 20, 1945) is a former Republican politician from the U.S. state of Idaho. He served 18 years in the U.S. Senate (1991–2009), preceded by 10 years in the U.S. House, representing Idaho's first district (1981–91).[3] His 28 years in Congress rank as the second-longest in Idaho history, trailing only William Borah, who served over 32 years in the Senate. In addition to serving in Congress, Craig has been a member of the Board of Directors of the National Rifle Association since 1983.[4] Craig was selected for induction into the Idaho Hall of Fame in 2007.[5][6]

On August 27, 2007, the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call revealed that Craig had been arrested for lewd conduct in a men's restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on June 11, 2007, and entered a guilty plea to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct on August 8, 2007.[7] Despite firmly stating that he was not and never had been gay, Craig announced his intention to resign from the Senate at a news conference on September 1, 2007, but later decided to finish the remainder of his term.

Craig was not a candidate for re-election in 2008.[8] He was succeeded by Lieutenant Governor and former Governor Jim Risch, who won the seat in the November 2008 election.[9] Craig subsequently co-founded the consulting firm New West Strategies and became a lobbyist.[10][11]

Early life and family

Craig was born in Council, Idaho, the son of Dorothy Lenore (née McCord) and Elvin Oren Craig.[12] He grew up on a ranch outside Midvale in Washington County. In 1969 he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Idaho. At the University of Idaho, he was student body president and a member of the Delta Chi fraternity.[13] He pursued graduate studies at George Washington University before returning to his family's Midvale ranching business in 1971. Craig was a member of the Idaho Army National Guard from 1970 to 1972, attaining the rank of Private First Class (E3),[14] after which he received an honorable discharge.[15]

Craig married Suzanne Thompson in 1983 and adopted the three children she had from a previous marriage.[16] Through his adopted children, Craig has nine grandchildren.[17]

Political career

Craig was elected to the Idaho Senate in 1974 and reelected in 1976 and 1978.[17]

In 1980, Craig was elected to an open seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Idaho's 1st congressional district. He succeeded Republican Steve Symms, who was leaving the House to run for and win election to the Senate against incumbent Democrat Frank Church. Craig was re-elected four times, serving until 1991. While in the House, he supported President Ronald Reagan's push to expand vocational education.

Allegations of cocaine use and sex with male teenage congressional pages by unnamed congressmen were pursued by investigators and journalists in 1982.[18] Craig issued a statement denying involvement.[19] Craig stated "Persons who are unmarried as I am, by choice or by circumstance, have always been the subject of innuendos, gossip and false accusations. I think this is despicable."[15] Craig served on the House Ethics Committee. In 1989 Craig was reported to have led an extended effort that pushed for more severe punishment of Representative Barney Frank for his involvement in a gay prostitution scandal.[20][21]

U.S. Senate

Craig announced his candidacy for the 1990 Senate election for the seat vacated by the retiring James A. McClure. Craig defeated Idaho Attorney General Jim Jones in the Republican primary. In the general election he defeated Democratic former Idaho Legislature member Ron J. Twilegar with 61 percent of the vote.

In 1995, Craig formed a barbershop quartet called The Singing Senators with Senators Trent Lott, John Ashcroft, and James Jeffords.[22]

Craig was reelected in 1996, with 57 percent of the vote, defeating Democrat Walt Minnick. He was reelected again in the 2002 election with 65 percent of the vote, when he spent $3.2 million to defeat Alan Blinken.

In 1999 Craig became sharply critical of U.S. President Bill Clinton for the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Speaking on NBC's Meet The Press, Craig told Tim Russert: "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."[23]

Craig served as Senate Republican Policy Committee chairman from 1997 until 2003.[3] He then became chairman of the Special Committee on Aging. After the Democrats gained control of the Senate in the 2006 Congressional election, Craig became the ranking member of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs and a member of the Appropriations Committee and the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He served as the ranking member of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee. Amid the controversy surrounding his arrest and guilty plea to charges of disorderly conduct, Craig temporarily stepped aside as ranking member on the Veterans' Affairs Committee and two subcommittees in August 2007.[24]

Craig is a longtime, leading advocate for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the United States Constitution.[25]

In May 2003, Craig put a hold on more than 200 Air Force promotions in an attempt to pressure the Air Force to station four new C-130 cargo planes in Idaho, saying he received a commitment from the Air Force almost seven years earlier that the planes would be delivered. Defense Department officials said the reason the C-130s had not been sent to Idaho was that no new aircraft were being manufactured for the type of transport mission done by the Idaho Air National Guard unit where Craig wanted the planes delivered.[26]

Craig supports the guest worker program proposed by President George W. Bush. In April 2005, Craig tried to amend an Iraq War supplemental bill with an amendment that would have granted legal status to between 500,000 and one million illegal immigrants in farm work. The amendment failed with 53 votes (60 votes were needed because the amendment was not germane to the underlying bill).[27] A version of the AgJOBS bill legislation was included in the Senate-passed immigration reform bill in 2006. Craig, the principal sponsor of AgJOBS, continues to support amnesty for illegal immigrants who are "trusted workers with a significant work history in American agriculture."[28] This position has been sharply criticized by anti-illegal immigration activists.[29] On June 26, 2007, Craig reiterated his support for the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007.

In October 2005, Craig suggested that flooded sections of New Orleans should be abandoned after Hurricane Katrina had hit and was quoted on a Baton Rouge television station as saying that "Fraud is in the culture of Iraqis. I believe that is true in the state of Louisiana as well."[30]

On December 16, 2005, Craig voted against a cloture motion filed relative to the USA PATRIOT Act; the motion ultimately earned only 52 votes, and so a Democratic filibuster against extension of the act (due to expire at the end of 2005) was permitted to continue.[31] On December 21, 2005, Craig backed a six-month extension of the Act while further negotiations took place.[32] On February 9, 2006, Craig announced an agreement among himself, the White House, and fellow Senators John E. Sununu, Arlen Specter, Lisa Murkowski, Chuck Hagel and Richard Durbin to reauthorize the Act.[33]

In 2006, Craig posted to his Senate website[34] all the earmarks he had inserted into federal spending bills since joining the Senate Appropriations Committee in 1998.

The American Conservative Union rated Craig's 2005 voting record at 96 out of 100 points, while the Americans for Democratic Action rated him at 15 points. Craig supported the Federal Marriage Amendment, which barred extension of rights to same-sex couples; he voted for cloture on the amendment in both 2004 and 2006, and was a cosponsor in 2008.[35] However, in late 2006 he appeared to endorse the right of individual states to create same-sex civil unions, but said he would vote "yes" on an Idaho constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages when pressured to clarify his position by the anti-gay rights advocacy group Families for a Better Idaho.[36] Craig voted against cloture in 2002, which would have extended the federal definition of hate crimes to cover sexual orientation.[37] This legislation was passed in 2007 in both the House and the Senate as the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007. Craig voted against the measure.[38] The LGBT advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign issued guides to candidates' voting records in 2004. The Human Rights Campaign group gave him a 0 rating.[39]

Prior to the nomination of Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne, Craig was mentioned as a possible candidate to succeed Gale Norton as United States Secretary of the Interior in March 2006.[40]

In June 2012, the Federal Election Commission sued Craig for repayment of $217,000 of campaign funds which he used to pay for his defense in the case. In an August 2012 filing, Craig's lawyer Andrew Herman wrote "Not only was the trip itself constitutionally required, but Senate rules sanction reimbursement for any cost relating to a senator's use of a bathroom while on official travel"; the filing cited an FEC ruling that allowed former Congressman Jim Kolbe to use campaign funds for his legal defense in the Mark Foley scandal.[41] The federal court in Washington, D.C. found him liable to repay the full sum, and on March 4, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed that judgment.

Committee assignments

Idaho Hall of Fame induction

In 2007, Idaho Hall of Fame Association inducted Larry Craig into the Idaho Hall of Fame, despite his well-publicized arrest and guilty plea in an airport sex sting, following the failure to appeal. He had been picked in March 2007, months before the arrest.[42]

2007 arrest and consequences

Main article: Larry Craig scandal
Mug shot of Craig, 2007

On June 11, 2007, Craig was arrested at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for lewd conduct in a men's restroom,[43] where he was accused of soliciting a male undercover police officer for sexual activity.[44] During the resulting interview with the arresting officer, Craig insisted upon his innocence, disputing the officer's version of the event by stating that he merely had a "wide stance" (Craig states that he said he was a "wide guy",[45]) and that he had been picking up a piece of paper from the floor.[44]

Craig was charged with interference with privacy, a gross misdemeanor offense, and a disorderly conduct misdemeanor. [46] Despite his statements of innocence during the police interview, Craig plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct by signing and mailing a plea petition, dated August 1, 2007, to the Hennepin County District Court in Minnesota.[46][47][48] He paid $575, including fines and fees. Senator Craig signed the petition to enter his guilty plea, which contained the provisions, "I understand that the court will not accept a plea of guilty from anyone who claims to be innocent... I now make no claim that I am innocent of the charge to which I am entering a plea of guilty." Craig mailed his signed petition to the court, and his petition to plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge was accepted and filed by the court on August 8, 2007.[46][47] In an August 28, 2007, press conference Craig regretted filing the guilty plea, stating "In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty. I was trying to handle this matter myself quickly and expeditiously"[49][50]

The bathroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport in which the 2007 incident occurred.

At a news conference on September 1, 2007, Craig announced his intent to resign, "with sadness and deep regret", effective September 30, 2007. On September 4, 2007, a spokesperson for Craig indicated that he was reconsidering his decision to resign,[51] if his conviction was rapidly overturned and his committee assignments were restored.[52] The following week, Craig's attorneys filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, arguing that it "was not knowing and intelligent and therefore was in violation of his constitutional rights."[53] The motion was ultimately denied, upholding the initial guilty plea.[54] Craig's bathroom stall controversy forced him to step down from his position as liaison to the Senate on the Romney campaign.[55]

Following the ruling, Craig announced that despite his previous statements to the contrary, he would serve out his Senate term. He stated that he intended to "continue my effort to clear my name in the Senate Ethics Committee—something that is not possible if I am not serving in the Senate."[56] Craig did not seek reelection in 2008 and left office on January 3, 2009.[57]

Both the 2009 documentary Outrage and the magazine Newsweek (June 7, 2010 issue) listed Craig, among others, as a conservative politician with a record of anti-gay legislation who was caught in a gay sex scandal.[58]

In a lawsuit by the Federal Election Commission, it was determined that he improperly paid his attorneys in this matter from his campaign funds, and Craig was ordered in 2014 to pay the Treasury $242,535.[59] On March 4, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed that judgment.[60][61]


After his retirement, Craig opened the consulting firm New West Strategies with his former chief of staff, Mike Ware, focusing on energy issues.[10]

Election history

Senate elections in Idaho (Class II): Results 1990–2002
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1990 Ron J. Twilegar 122,295 38.7% Larry Craig 193,641 61.3%
1996 Walt Minnick 198,422 39.9% Larry Craig 283,532 57.0% Mary J. Charbonneau Independent 10,137 2.0% Susan Vegors Natural Law 5,142 1.0%
2002 Alan Blinken 132,975 32.5% Larry Craig 266,215 65.2% Donovan Bramwell Libertarian 9,354 2.3%

1988 Idaho 1st District United States Congressional Election

Larry Craig (R) (inc.) 65.7%
Jeanne Givens (D) 34.3%

1984 Idaho 1st District United States Congressional Election

Larry Craig (R) (inc.) 68.6%
Bill Heller (D) 31.4%

1982 Idaho 1st District United States Congressional Election

Larry Craig (R) (inc.) 53.6%
Larry LaRocco (D) 46.4%

1980 Idaho 1st District United States Congressional Election

Larry Craig (R) 53.7%
Glenn W. Nichols (D) 46.3%


  1. "Larry Craig (Rep)". The Washington Times. The Washington Times, LLC. October 5, 2007. Retrieved October 24, 2008.
  2. "Senator Larry E. Craig". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved September 3, 2007.
  3. 1 2 "CRAIG, Larry Edwin – Biographical Information". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Library of Congress. Retrieved September 1, 2007.
  4. NRA 2007 Official Ballot, up for re-election of a three-year term
  5. Sen. Larry Craig chosen for Idaho Hall of Fame Archived October 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. from CNN
  6. "Sen. Larry Craig to Join Idaho Hall of Fame, Despite Sex Sting Guilty Plea". Fox News. Associated Press. October 7, 2007.
  7. Murphy, Patti; David Stout (August 29, 2007). "Idaho Senator Says He Regrets Guilty Plea in Restroom Incident". New York Times. Retrieved September 1, 2007.
  8. Thomas Ferraro (October 4, 2007). "Sen. Craig won't resign in sex sting plea". Reuters. Retrieved October 4, 2007.
  9. In Idaho, Jim Risch's rose through the GOP ranks. Associated Press, November 5, 2008. Retrieved November 6, 2008.
  10. 1 2 "Ex-Senator Craig Becomes a Consultant". New York Times. Associated Press. July 27, 2009.
  11. "Hill Hallways: Larry Craig on the subway". CNN. February 28, 2011.
  12. "Genealogy of Larry Edwin Craig". Rootsweb. Retrieved September 1, 2007.
  13. Delta – prominent alumni – Larry Craig accessed 2009-04-25
  14. "Veterans in the US Senate 109th Congress" (PDF). Navy League. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 28, 2007. Retrieved December 9, 2006.
  15. 1 2 Dan Popkey (August 28, 2007). "Men's room arrest reopens questions about Sen. Larry Craig". Idaho Statesman. Retrieved September 3, 2007.
  16. Associated Press Election Coverage, October 18, 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-18
  17. 1 2 "Larry Craig, US Senator from Idaho: Official Biography". United States Senate. Retrieved September 1, 2007.
  18. Akers, M.A. (August 28, 2007). Larry Craig: Still not gay. The Washington Post. Retrieved on September 23, 2007.
  19. Pear, R. (July 8, 1982). Authorities meet on Capitol sex and drug inquiry. The New York Times, p. B-9.
  20. "What to do about Barney Frank // Congress faces nasty confrontation on handling sexual misconduct", Rowland Evans, Robert Novak. Austin American Statesman. Austin, Tex.: Oct 17, 1989. pg. A.8 Word spread through the GOP cloakroom that Rep. Larry Craig of Idaho was standing firm inside the Ethics Committee.
  21. "Frank reprimanded for aiding prostitute" Elaine S. Povich, Chicago Tribune Chicago, Ill.: Jul 27, 1990. pg. 4 The ethics committee, officially known as the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, had unanimously recommended that Frank be reprimanded and Frank did not contest the charge. But the committee was severely split, took months to make up its mind on the punishment, and during the vote Thursday three GOP members of the panel-Reps. Thomas Petri of Wisconsin, Larry Craig of Idaho and Jim Hansen of Utah-voted for censure, the more severe sanction.
  22. Wired News They Put the Party in GOP April 19, 2000.
  23. Murphy, Logan (August 27, 2007). "1999 Video: Republican Larry Craig Calls Bill Clinton "A Nasty, Bad Naughty Boy"". Crooks and Liars. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  24. Bash, Dana; Candy Crowley; Jessica Yellin; Chris Welch (August 29, 2007). "Craig stripped of party leadership on Senate committees". CNN. Archived from the original on August 30, 2007. Retrieved September 1, 2007.
  25. Associated Press (February 13, 2003). "CNN All Politics/". CNN. Archived from the original on February 3, 2007. Retrieved September 6, 2007.
  26. Snow, Kate; Steve Turnham; Trish Turner (June 10, 2003). "Idaho senator holds up Air Force promotions: Dispute over cargo planes at issue". CNN. Retrieved September 1, 2007.
  27. San Diego Tribune Legal status for undocumented farmworkers fails April 20, 2005
  28. "Putting our Immigration Policies to work". United States Senate. Retrieved April 10, 2007.
  29. "Vasquez will challenge Craig in 2008". Retrieved April 10, 2007.
  30. "Senator: LA is as Corrupt as Iraq". WAFB (Louisiana). October 18, 2005. Retrieved September 1, 2007.
  31. Patriot Act renewal fails in Senate. December 17, 2005.
  32. USA TODAY Senate strikes deal to extend Patriot Act, December 21, 2005.
  33. CBS News Agreement Reached on Patriot Act Changes, February 10, 2006.
  34. Larry Craig, US Senator from Idaho: Idaho Initiatives
  35. S.J.RES.43, A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to marriage.
  36. "Craig Clarifies: 'Yes' on Marriage Amendment". United States Senate. November 6, 2006. Retrieved September 1, 2007.
  37. "U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 107th Congress – 2nd Session". United States Senate. Retrieved October 24, 2008.
  38. "U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 110th Congress – 1st Session". United States Senate. Retrieved October 24, 2008.
  39. Congressional Scorecard – 108th Congress. (n.d.). The Human Rights Campaign (p. 6). Retrieved on September 8, 2007 (Adobe Acrobat Reader required for viewing).
  40. Red Orbit Kempthorne, Craig Could Be Nominees, March 11, 2006.
  41. Miller, John (2012-08-03), "Ex-Idaho senator: Bathroom trip official business", San Francisco Chronicle, retrieved 2012-08-03
  42. "Sen. Larry Craig chosen for Idaho Hall of Fame". CNN. October 7, 2007. Archived from the original on October 10, 2007. Retrieved October 10, 2007.
  43. Jeanne Huff (September 17, 2007). "Tourists flock to Minneapolis airport men's room". Idaho Statesman. Retrieved March 10, 2010.
  44. 1 2 Lewd conduct: Report of Sgt. Dave Karsnia #4211, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Police Department. (June 12, 2007). The Washington Post. Retrieved on August 28, 2007 (Adobe Acrobat Reader required for viewing). See also U.S. senator gets flushed: Republican Larry Craig sought Minnesota airport toilet tryst. (August 28, 2007). The Smoking Gun. Retrieved on August 28, 2007.
  45. Transcript: Audio interview of Sen. Larry Craig. (August 30, 2007). Fox News Retrieved on September 5, 2007.
  46. 1 2 3 State Of Minnesota vs Larry Edwin Craig. Case No. 27-Cr-07-043231. (Hennepin County District Court 07/02/2007). Text Note: In order to access the records, search by name or case number in the Criminal/Traffic/Petty Case Records database.
  47. 1 2 Minnesota v. Craig, Case No. 07043231. Petition to enter plea of guilty-misdemeanor (D.C. Minn., August 8, 2007). The Smoking Gun. Retrieved on August 29, 2007. According to the criminal complaint, Craig was charged originally with offenses under the Minnesota State Statute section 609.746, subd.1(c) (interference with privacy, a gross misdemeanor) and section 609.72, subd.1(3) (disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor). Complaint in Minnesota v. Craig Archived June 30, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Case No. 07043231 (D.C. Minn., July 2007), page 2. The Smoking Gun. Retrieved on August 29, 2007.
  48. "Idaho senator fined for lewd behavior at Minneapolis airport". Minneapolis Star Tribune. August 28, 2007. Archived from the original on August 30, 2007. Retrieved August 28, 2007.
  49. "Craig Statement on Roll Call Story" (Press release). Office of Senator Larry Craig. August 27, 2007.
  50. "Sen. Craig: I'm not gay". CBS News.
  51. Sen. Craig may not resign, spokesman says. MSNBC. Retrieved on September 5, 2007.
  52. Charles Babington (September 6, 2007). "Craig aide says he's likely to leave". Yahoo News. Retrieved September 6, 2007.
  53. CNN Craig files to withdraw plea, blames stress from paper's investigation Archived September 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. Sep 10, 2007
  54. State of Minnesota v. Larry Edwin Craig, Case No. 27 CR 07-043231. Order of Judge Charles A. Porter, Jr. Archived October 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. (D.C. Minn., October 4, 2007). State of Minnesota District Court, County of Hennepin, Fourth Judicial District. Retrieved on October 4, 2007.
  55. "Senator, Arrested at Airport, Pleads Guilty". New York Times. 28 August 2007. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  56. Emily Pierce (October 4, 2007). "Craig to Finish Senate Term Despite Losing in Court". Roll Call. Retrieved October 4, 2007.
  57. Larry Craig – U.S. Congress Votes Database. The Washington Post.
  58. Newsweek, June 7, 2010 page 58
  60. "Ex-Idaho Sen. Larry Craig loses appeal on funds use after bathroom incident". The Daily Herald. Everett, Washington. March 4, 2016. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  61. "FEC v. Craig for U.S. Senate, and Larry Craig Individually" (PDF). United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Retrieved 12 April 2016.

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Wikisource has original text related to this article:
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Steve Symms
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Idaho's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
Larry LaRocco
United States Senate
Preceded by
James A. McClure
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Idaho
Served alongside: Steve Symms, Dirk Kempthorne, Mike Crapo
Succeeded by
Jim Risch
Political offices
Preceded by
John Breaux
Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee
Succeeded by
Gordon Smith
Preceded by
Arlen Specter
Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee
Succeeded by
Daniel Akaka
Party political offices
Preceded by
Don Nickles
Chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee
Succeeded by
Jon Kyl
Preceded by
James A. McClure
Republican Party nominee, U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Idaho
1990 (won), 1996 (won), 2002 (won)
Succeeded by
Jim Risch
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