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Posts published in “Day: February 13, 2008”

Craig’s Letter of Admonition

Larry Craig

Larry Craig

The Senate Ethics Committee action on Idaho Senator Larry Craig is over, with a middling response - somewhere between quietly dropping it and taking any action that would have a practical effect.

In that middle, the panel issued a Letter of Admonition that said several of Craig's actions were improper, chastising him for them, but went no further. It concluded: "The Select Committee on Ethics resolves this matter through your public admonition so that, on behalf of the United States Senate, it may make known clearly that the conduct to which you pled guilty, together with the related and subsequent conduct discussed in this letter, is improper conduct which has reflected discreditably on the Senate."

What was it exactly that brought the discredit? First, apparently, the conviction at Minneapolis of "disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor," which the committee decided meant that Craig was in fact guilty, his protests notwithstanding. Craig's display of his Senate business card to the arresting officer, which the panel said Craig should have realized could be easily seen as an attempt to use the office to evade legal action. They said his use of campaign funds for his legal defense was ethically questionable at best.

Maybe most interesting was a distinction the Ethics panel drew about Craig's conduct of his legal case. Since Craig's conviction on the disorderly conduct charge, he has tried to persuade courts to let him withdraw his guilty plea in the case. The Ethics Committee said that is a legal tactic ordinary citizens "may take," but "it is a course that a United States Senator should not take. [emphasis theirs] Your claims to the court, through counsel, to the effect that your guilty plea resulted from improper pressure or coercion, or that you did not, as a legal matter, know what you were doing when you pled guilty, do not appear credible."

The committee essentially declared Craig thoroughly dishonest in his handling of the whole situation. It was a considerable blast. But in the context, not much more than Craig has gotten from other quarters, and nothing to shake him from his course of hanging in there till the end of this year.