US senator announces resignation over bathroom incident (Roundup)
Sep 1, 2007, 17:25 GMT
Washington - A US senator announced his resignation Saturday after pleading guilty to charges of disorderly conduct in a men's airport bathroom.
Idaho Republican Senator Larry Craig said at a televised press conference in his home state that he would leave his position on September 30.
A number of politicians, including many from his own party, had been openly calling for Craig to resign since the details of his arrest at a Minneapolis airport emerged on Monday.
Craig, 62, was arrested in June amid a police sting operation over lewd behaviour and sexual activity in one of the airport's public bathrooms.
He pleaded guilty in August to a lesser charge - disorderly conduct - and paid a 500-dollar fine, according to the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call, which broke the story. Craig was also sentenced to 10 days in jail, which were suspended, and given a year's probation.
'I chose to serve because I truly love Idaho. What is best for Idaho has always been the focus of my efforts, and it is no different today,' he said in his resignation speech. 'To the Idahoans I represent, to my staff, my Senate colleagues and, most importantly, my wife and our family, I apologize for what I have caused. I am deeply sorry.'
Craig apologized that the debacle had distracted him from his political duties, saying his decision to leave was in his constituents' best interest.
'These are serious times of war and conflict - times that deserve the Senate and our full nation's attention,' he said. 'There are many challenges facing Idaho that I'm currently engaged in, and the people of Idaho deserve a Senator who can devote 100 per cent of his time and effort to critical state and national issues.'
He said that his legal problems would distract him from his job, prompting his decision to resign. His announcement brought jeers from the crowd, as well as cries of 'We love you Larry' from supporters.
Republican leaders on Wednesday stripped Craig of his committee posts in the Senate and had reportedly drafted a statement calling for him to resign, the Washington Post reported. The statement was held back because local Idaho Republicans warned it may have had the opposite effect of making his departure more difficult.
He had already resigned from a top post in Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's campaign.
The state's Republican governor will appoint a replacement to fill Craig's seat for the remainder of his term.
Craig on Tuesday made a public apology for bringing a 'cloud' over his home state, and said he regretted his guilty plea.
'I did nothing wrong at the Minneapolis airport ... and I regret the decision to plead guilty,' Craig said Tuesday. 'I am not gay, I never have been gay.'
Details of Craig's unsavoury episode dominated US news programmes, newspapers and websites, and pressure for him to step down only increased after an audio tape was released of Craig's interrogation by Minneapolis police.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur