Conservative group: Craig's bathroom arrest is effectively declaration of 'war on the West'
Airport spokesman tells RAW STORY police were trying to ensure 'safe' restrooms
A conservative group has come to Sen. Larry Craig's defense, saying his arrest in an airport restroom amid allegations he tried to solicit sex was an example of overzealous police profiling and entrapment.
The American Land Rights Association, a longtime supporter of the Idaho Republican, is calling for a boycott of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, where Craig was arrested in June. The airport is aware of the call for a boycott, but so far is not worried about a possible loss of business.
"We believe that most people will be appreciative of the fact that we try to keep the entire airport safe, including the restrooms," Patrick Hogan, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Airports Commission, which operates the airport, told RAW STORY.
In a lengthy e-mail to supporters, ALRA head Chuck Cushman accused police of "ambushing" Craig, and said the airport has "effectively declared war on the West." Craig's behavior was profiled by police and they arrested him "even though he never did anything wrong," Cushman wrote.
"Frankly, Iíve been in that Minnesota airport many times. Virtually everything Senator Craig did, I have done," Cushman told ALRA members in an e-mail. "I have a medical problem that means I must find a usable stall quickly. Iíve looked in stalls. I always take my roller bag in the stall with me. Iíve actually made noise outside a stall to encourage the person inside to move along as fast as possible."
Craig was arrested in June after a police officer said Craig peered into his stall "for about two minutes" while "fidgeting" with his hands. The Senator took a stall next to the officer, moved his foot into the officer's stall and ran his left hand along the bottom of the right stall divider between the two.
Police said Craig's actions mimic those employed by men hoping to engage in lewd conduct in the restroom, and he was one of dozens of men arrested in a months-long crackdown on such behavior.
Hogan told RAW STORY that the sting was a "positive action." It was initiated in response to complaints about sexual activity in the restrooms from customers and extensive evidence online that men used the bathroom as a staging ground for illicit trysts.
"I think it was important that we take pro-active efforts ... to ensure people know they can be safe when they use the restrooms," Hogan said
Craig pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge hoping to make the incident disappear, but news of the arrest broke last week, and a media maelstrom has engulfed the senator ever since.
Cushman called for a boycott of the airport for at least the next year, and he noted his group has led successful boycotts in the past. Craig's views are solidly in line with ALRA, which seeks to limit the government's attempts to create public lands and considers itself a defender of "property rights." Critics say ALRA is an anti-environmental group.
After announcing his intention to resign las week, Craig's intentions have become unclear. He says now he is seeking to withdraw his guilty plea in Minneapolis, which aides say may cause him to stay in the Senate. Republican leaders also have called for an investigation of Craig from the Senate Ethics Committee that he has retained a laywer to fight the ethics investigation if the guilty plea is overturned.