One more Republican conservative was outed this week for his illicit sexual conduct. "Roll Call," the newspaper that covers Capitol Hill, broke the story that Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct for soliciting a male undercover police officer in a toilet at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Craig agreed to pay $500-plus in fines and fees, received a suspended 10-day jail sentence plus one year’s probation.
With a true politician’s cynicism, Craig insists that he was innocent and would not have accepted the plea had he had a lawyer. He must have missed his buddy Fred Thompson on "Law & Order."
Last year, the gay activist Web site – blogactive.com outed Craig as a closeted gay man. Craig’s office denied the allegation, claiming that the accusation was "completely ridiculous" and with "no basis in fact."
Craig joins a growing list of Republicans caught-up in sex scandals. Most recently, David Vitter, Louisiana’s Republican senator, was exposed for his use of the "DC Madam’s" escort service. Last year, two congressmen, Mark Fowley (R-FL) and Don Sherwood (R-PA), lost their House seats because of, respectively, questionable conduct with underage male interns and an out-of-wedlock affair. And, of course, there is good old Ted Haggard, the former Evangelical pastor, who was outed for his affair with a male escort.
Hidden in the closet of the Republican house of secrets, along with under-the-table earmarks and other clandestine deal making, are the innumerable outings of gay party stalwarts. While an individual’s sexual proclivity is really no one’s business other than the individual, the moral hypocrisy that marks much of both local and national Republican agenda serves only to deny the sexual desires of all Americans.
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The "Roll Call" account provides a remarkable glimpse not simply into the questionable behavior of an aging Senator, but the secret world of sexual solicitation in a men’s public restroom.
In June, Craig was apprehended by an undercover officer, Sgt. Dave Karsnia, who was checking out complaints about lewd conduct in a Minnesota airport men’s room. Airport police had previously made numerous arrests in the restroom (often called a "tearoom") in connection with illicit sexual activity.
As "Roll Call" retells Karsnia’s official report, the policeman entered the bathroom at noon and hung out for about 13 minutes before taking a seat in a stall. He reported that he saw "an older white male with grey hair standing outside my stall." The older man, who was later identified as Craig, lingered in front of the stall for two minutes. "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.
Kasnia then reports that Craig then entered the stall next to his 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 reports. "From my seated position, I could observe the shoes and ankles of Craig seated to the left of me," he adds.
Craig was wearing dress slacks with black dress shoes. "At 12:16 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," Kasnia reports.
Craig then swiped his hand under the stall divider several times. The officer noted that " Craig had a gold ring on his ring finger as his hand was on my side of the stall divider." Karsnia then held his identification down by the floor to notify Craig that he was a police officer.
He continues, "[w]ith 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."
After being placed under arrest, Craig challenged the officer’s account of the events. He repeatedly said that he "either disagreed with me [Kasnia] or ‘didn’t recall’ the events as they happened." Craig stated "that he has a wide stance when going to the bathroom and that his foot may have touched mine." Craig insisted that he reached down with his right hand to pick up a piece of paper on the floor.
The officer noted that "there was not a piece of paper on the bathroom floor, nor did Craig pick up a piece of paper."
On August 8th Craig accepted a guilty plea for disorderly conduct. One fall-out from this incident is that Craig resigned his position as liaison to the Senate for the Romney campaign. [Roll Call, August 27, 2007]
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Joining Craig, we should not forget the other members in the exclusive but growing GOP Outed Allstars. Among nationally-elected officials, other Allstars include:
* Bob Allen of Florida. In July 2007, Allen was arrested in Titusville, FL, for solicited an undercover male officer inside a restroom and offering to perform oral sex for $20. The arresting offices stated that he noticed Allen acting suspiciously as he went in and out of the men’s restroom three times.
* Robert Bauman of Maryland. In October 1980, Bauman was arrested (and pleaded innocent) on a charge of solicitation and having sex with a 16-year-old male dancer he met at a gay bar. Married and the father of four, he was formerly chairman of the American Conservative Union and took a strong position against gay rights.
* Jon Hinson of Mississippi. He resigned after being caught in April 1981 performing oral sodomy in a House office building public restroom. He was then married and a fierce conservative. However, he admitted that in 1976 he was accused of having oral sex in a Virginia gay bar and that in 1977 he had survived a fire in a D.C.gay movie theater.
These Allstars are joined by members of the alleged "Franklin Child Sex Ring," the MVP of the ’80s-era GOP Outed Allstars. According to a series of 1989 reports in the "Washington Times," a homosexual prostitution ring was operating out of the White House during the Reagan and Bush-I administrations. It alleged that the ring provided male (often teenage) prostitutes to prominent government officials, including military officers, congressional aides and U.S. and foreign businessmen with close ties to Washington movers and shakers. It was also alleged that teenage boys from Nebraska orphanages were transported around the United States by top Republican officials as part of a prostitution service. [Washington Times, June 29, 1989]
Among the leading figures of the scandal were:
* Craig J. Spence, Republican lobbyist, was alleged to have taken friends and male prostitutes on late-night cruises through the White House; he was found dead in a Boston hotel room. [Washington Times, July 26, 1989]
* Paul Robert Balach, was political personnel liaison for Labor Secretary Elizabeth Dole’s to the White House and a former aide to Rep. Robert Bauman; he resigned "due to the public disclosure of activities concerning my personal life."
* Charles K. Dutcher, an associate director of presidential personnel in the Reagan administration, apparently paid for homosexual prostitute services with this own credit card.
Two other Allstars who gained national prominence are:
* James Guckert, aka Jeff Gannon, a Republican blogger who regularly attended White House press conferences and contributor to GOPUSA.com, but had no journalism credentials. Although he made anti-gay statements, he ran a gay website soliciting guys for military-themed trysts, particularly marine. He once advertised himself as a "top" who is "8 inches, cut."
* Paul Crouch was a televangelist and former president of Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). In September 2004, the "Los Angeles Times" broke the story of how TBN paid $425,000 to Enoch Lonnie Ford in an attempt to stop him from revealing his relations with Crouch. Ford, a former TBN employee, claims to have had sexual liaisons with Crouch at the network-owned cabin at Lake Arrowhead in 1996.
Many other Republican political operatives, ministers and local and state officials could be added to the Allstar list. However, since they haven’t risen to the major leagues of social disrepute, they have not been included.
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The scandal involving Senator Craig, like those involving David Vitter, Mark Foley, Don Sherwood and Ted Haggard, will not be the last to befall the holier-then-though righteous GOP. Hopefully, the latest revelation of the Republican, Christian right’s hypocrisy will only make Americans wary of anything they say about the morality of others. And, as occurred following the Fowley and Sherwood revelations last year, the 2008 elections may well rid the nation of these hypocrites once and forever.
DAVID ROSEN can be reached at email@example.com.