Craig Remains in Office, for Now

The Idaho senator was to resign this week, but has decided not to do so.

ByABC News via GMA logo
February 12, 2009, 11:18 AM

Sept. 27, 2007 — -- Though Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, had previously pledged to resign by Sunday, amid allegations he cruised for gay sex in a public bathroom, he now says he will stay in office.

"Sen. Larry Craig denies that he went into that restroom for anything other than to go to the restroom," said Craig's attorney Billy Martin, arguing Wednesday that his client's only mistake was pleading guilty to a crime he did not commit in the hopes of making it go away.

Craig asked a Minnesota judge earlier this month to allow him to withdraw his August guilty plea for disorderly conduct after he was arrested in an airport men's room sex sting in June. The senator said he would try to clear his name before his resignation day, Sept. 30, and, if successful, might not resign.

But after Minnesota Hennepin County Judge Charles Porter said in a hearing Wednesday no decision would be made on Craig's request until next week at the earliest, Craig issued a statement saying, "For now, I will continue my work in the U.S. Senate for Idaho."

The senator now seems to be waiting for the judge to make a ruling before deciding whether follow through on his resignation.

Craig's decision is the latest in the back-and-forth saga about whether he would resign.

Initially, after the scandal broke, Craig said he would leave the Senate. The senator then offered an amendment to that pledge, saying he would remain in the Senate if he could get his guilty plea thrown out before his resignation day.

The three-term senator's decision to remain in office may come much to the chagrin of his Republican colleagues, as Craig has drawn a plethora of public attention in the last several months.

In fact, Senate Republican leaders clearly have stated they want Craig to leave office and even have named Idaho's GOP governor, C.L. "Butch" Otter, as a potential replacement, according to The Associated Press.

Some believe Craig was aware of his rights when he pleaded guilty; two months passed between the arrest and his guilty plea.

"In pleading guilty to the charge, the defendant knowingly accepted responsibility and culpability for his actions," said Patrick Hogan of the Metropolitan Airports Commission.

Before the incident, Craig had planned to seek a fourth term.