ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) – In an effort to persuade a three-judge panel to throw out Sen. Larry Craig's guilty plea, his attorney suggested Wednesday that his foot tapping in an airport men's room may have been protected by the First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
The Idaho Republican was arrested in the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport in June 2007, after an undercover police officer accused him of soliciting sex by using hand signals and tapping his foot in a bathroom stall.
Two months after his arrest, and without consulting a lawyer, Craig later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.
In addition to suggesting that First Amendment may be involved, Craig's lawyer, Billy Martin, also argued before the Minnesota Court of Appeals panel that no one besides the arresting officer saw the hand signals and foot tapping, which would mean no one else was offended by the behavior and, thus, make the disorderly conduct charge invalid.
Martin also suggested that the judge who previously heard Craig's case had mishandled his attempt to have his guilty plea thrown out.
Prosecuting attorney Chris Renz dismissed the idea that Craig's foot tapping was covered by the First Amendment, arguing that no one but the officer in the adjoining stall could have heard the tapping.
In February, the Senate Ethics Committee issued a "letter of admonition" to Craig in connection to the case.
In the letter, the committee accused him of improper conduct and said his actions reflected "discreditably" on the chamber.
The committee also criticized Craig for using more than $200,000 from campaign funds to pay legal fees related to his case and for flashing his Senate business card at the officer who arrested him. The letter said that move could be seen as an improper attempt to receive "special and favorable treatment."
Craig initially said he would resign after the incident was reported in the media but later decided to remain in the Senate and fight to have his guilty plea thrown out. But the three-term senator did not seek re-election this year and will retire when his term ends in January.
Craig blew it when he pled guilty. He should have just said PRESENT.
When the Republicans were in Minnesota for their convention the men's rooms at the convention hall must have sounded like a Riverdance audition.
Wouldn't he be smarter to just get this behind him as quietly as possible?
When does he report to prison?
I am a liberal who supports Larry Craig's right to cruise for sex in public restrooms.
Craig is such a hypocritical tool.
Larry's a LIAR!
TYPICAL REPUBLICAN HYPOCRISY! You’re Right!!!
What's really scary is the only reason they won the election 4 years ago is because they made gay marriage an issue, but every time there is a gay affair it's on the republican’s side, Craig, the guy in Florida and the spiritual advisor to Bush. Always the same.....
Come out of the closet already Larry... your not fooling anyone & only making yourself look like a bigger idiot.
Foot tapping might be protected, but soliciting sex is not.
For all we know, he was just practicing some Broadway dance numbers. :)
Come out of your closet Larry!
Maybe he's seeing all the absolute crap being spewed by the McCain campaign and thinks people will buy his BS too...
All I can say – HILARIOUS!!!!!!
The good people of Idaho must cringe every time this subject comes up.
He should never have pled guilty...
Just say "PRESENT".... that's how the dems do it
Republicans motto is always, "I didn't do it, honestly."
Craig is a sicko. CNN, don't clutter the board with sicko news from the likes of Larry- I'm tapping at you – Craig.
He is incredibly arrogant to think he can Red-Tape his way through this. The more tape he pulls, the guiltier he looks. Closet 'Mo for sure.
Just more republicans who think Americans are all stupid.
Say NO MORE to republican rule in 2008! Vote for change! Vote to turn this country around!
I guess the good people of Idaho didn't vet this one.
Wow, so the Obamabot Whaaaambulance coerced CNN to cover this non-story to distract everyone from how many times the "chosen one" and "Ol' Foot in His Mouth Biden" ate their words in the last 24 hours?
It would be funny if my tax dollars wasn't going to pay for his pension. Shameful.
Senator Obama's official position on this:
Compared to McCain, who just didn't show up