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Larry Edwin Craig (born July 20, 1945) is a former Republican politician from the U.S.marker state of Idahomarker. He served 18 years in the U.S. Senate (1991-2009), preceded by ten years in the U.S. House, representing Idaho's first district (1981-91). His 28 years in the 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 Associationmarker since 1983. Craig has also been selected for induction into the Idaho Hall of Fame. Although he was selected in March 2007, the announcement was made in October 2007.

On August 27, 2007, the Capitol Hillmarker newspaper Roll Call revealed that Craig had been arrested for lewd conduct in the men's restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airportmarker on June 11, 2007, and entered a guilty plea to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct on August 8, 2007. As a result of the controversy surrounding his arrest and subsequent guilty plea, Senator Craig announced his intention to resign from the Senate at a news conference on September 1, 2007, which was to become effective on September 30, 2007. After failing to withdraw his guilty plea, on October 4, 2007, Craig released a statement refusing to resign as senator for Idaho.

Craig was not a candidate for re-election in 2008. He was succeeded by Lieutenant Governor and former Governor Jim Risch, a fellow Republican, who won Craig's Senate seat in the November 2008 election.

Early life and family

Craig was born in Councilmarker, Idahomarker, to Dorothy Lenore McCord and Elvin Oren Craig. He grew up on a ranch outside Midvalemarker in Washington Countymarker. In 1969 he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Idahomarker. At the University of Idaho he was student body president, and a member of the Delta Chi fraternity. He pursued graduate studies at George Washington Universitymarker 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), after which he received an honorable discharge.

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

Political career

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

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 left the House and was elected to the Senate after defeating 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 page by unnamed congressmen were pursued by investigators and journalists in 1982. Craig issued a statement denying involvement. 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." 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."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. "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.

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 57 percent of the vote.

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

Craig was reelected in 1996, again 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.”

Craig served as Senate Republican Policy Committee chairman from 1997 until 2003. 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.

Craig is a long-time, leading advocate for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the United States Constitution.

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, claiming he received a commitment from the Air Force almost seven years earlier that the planes would be delivered. Defense Departmentmarker 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.

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 AgJOBS 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). 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." This position has been sharply criticized by anti-illegal immigration activists. 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 Orleansmarker 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 Louisianamarker as well."

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. On December 21, 2005, Craig backed a six-month extension of the Act while further negotiations took place. On February 9, 2006, Craig announced an agreement among himself, the White Housemarker, and fellow Senators John E. Sununu, Arlen Specter, Lisa Murkowski, Chuck Hagel and Richard Durbin to reauthorize the Act.

In 2006 Craig posted to his Senate website 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. 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. Craig voted against cloture in 2002, which would have extended the federal definition of hate crimes to cover sexual orientation. 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. 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.

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.

Committee assignments

  • Committee on Appropriations
    • Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
    • Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
    • Subcommittee on Homeland Security
    • Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
    • Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans' Affairs, and Related Agencies
  • Committee on Environment and Public Works
    • Subcommittee on Public Sector Solutions to Global Warming, Oversight, and Children's Health Protection
    • Subcommittee on Superfund and Environmental Health
  • Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
    • Subcommittee on Energy
    • Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests
    • Subcommittee on Water and Power
  • Committee on Veterans' Affairs
  • Special Committee on Aging

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.

2007 arrest and consequences

On June 11, 2007, Craig was arrested at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airportmarker on suspicion of lewd conduct. 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" and that he had been picking a piece of paper from the floor.

In spite of his claims of innocence during the interview, Craig later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct by signing and mailing a plea petition, dated August 1, 2007, to the Hennepin County District Courtmarker in Minnesotamarker. 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. Craig later indicated that he 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." In an August 28, 2007, press conference

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, if his conviction was rapidly overturned and his committee assignments were restored. 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." The motion was ultimately denied, upholding the initial guilty plea.

Following the ruling, Craig announced that despite his pledge 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." Craig did not seek reelection in 2008 and left office on January 3, 2009.


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

Electoral history

2002 Idaho United States Senatorial Election
Larry Craig (R) (inc.) 65%
Alan Blinken (D) 33%
Donovan Bramwell (Lib.) 2%

1996 Idaho United States Senatorial Election
Larry Craig (R) (inc.) 57%
Walt Minnick (D) 39.9%
Mary J. Charbonneau (I) 2%
Susan Vegors (Natural Law) 1%

1990 Idaho United States Senatorial Election
Larry Craig (R) 61.3%
Ron J. Twilegar 38.7%

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 La Rocco (D) 46.4%

1980 Idaho 1st District United States Congressional Election
Larry Craig (R) 53.7%
Glenn W. Nichols (D) 46.3%


External links

Further reading

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