Idaho Republican Larry Craig resigned Saturday from the U.S. Senate in the wake of a sex scandal that caused party leaders to ostracize him.
“It is with sadness and deep regret that I announce it is my intent to resign from the Senate Sept. 30,” said Craig in a news conference in Boise.
“In doing so, I hope to allow a smooth and orderly transition of my loyal staff and of the person appointed to take my place,” he continued.
Idaho Gov. C.L. Otter attended the news conference but did not immediately name a replacement for the remaining 15 months of Craig’s term in the Senate.
Despite nearly two decades in the venerable chamber, Craig lost the support of fellow Republicans after news that he was arrested in June in a sex sting in a Minneapolis airport bathroom. Police were targeting the airport’s men’s bathroom because of complaints of lewd behavior there.
Craig pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in August. He managed to evade media notice both times. But when he was finally found out, he became an object of national derision, not so much for his offense as for his defense.
Having been caught soliciting a male undercover officer, Craig initially pleaded guilty. But now he says he erred in doing so and was only trying to hide the incident from the media.
GOP leaders weren’t willing to support Craig. They stripped him of leadership duties on Wednesday, a day after calling for an investigation of his actions by the Senate Ethics Committee, and repeatedly called for his resignation.
There may have been a time when Craig’s party would have rallied around — or at least dropped a cone of silence over — any embattled member of its ranks.
But as the image of the party that heralds decency, family values and faith-based initiatives has become sorely tarnished lately. Mostly recently, Sen. David Vitter, a Republican from Louisiana, apologized in July for his use of a D.C. “escort service.”
Nearly a year ago, six-term Rep. Mark Foley, a Republican from Florida, resigned after reports that he had sent sexually explicit Internet messages to an underage male former page.
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