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Larry Craig Takes Wide Stance in Court

Former Sen. Larry Craig is still in court over his solicitation of sex in a Minneapolis airport men’s room (which shouldn’t be illegal, by the way), fighting against the Federal Elections Commission over whether he could use campaign contributions to pay for his legal defense. The judge seems a bit skeptical:

Craig contends that the airport bathroom trip fell under his official, duties as senator because he was traveling between Idaho and Washington for work, and therefore the legal fees could be paid for with campaign money. But at a hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that such a broad reading of official travel could be taken to extremes. What if a lawmaker was arrested in an airport for robbing a kiosk or consorting with a prostitute, she asked.

The Federal Election Commission sued Craig last year, arguing his legal problems had nothing to do with campaigning for federal office…

Jackson pointedly reminded Craig’s lawyer, Andrew D. Herman, of his client’s guilty plea.

“That had no connection to his duties, other than being in an airport,” she said.

I don’t expect this to fly (ahem). If that argument wins, there’s virtually nothing that a legislator could not use campaign funds for.

Comments

  1. D. C. Sessions says

    I don’t expect this to fly (ahem). If that argument wins, there’s virtually nothing that a legislator could not use campaign funds for.

    I’m not so sure that Justice Scalia would see that as a problem — and there are four more I wouldn’t bet against agreeing with him.

    Of course, combining that with the rapidly loosening restrictions on “campaign contributions” has interesting possibilities, too.

  2. says

    FYI: Soliciting someone for sex is not illegal, as long as no money or other remuneration changes hands. What is illegal is that, almost always, solicitations in a public men’s room results in sex acts in that same men’s room. These sting operations are intended to crack down on public sex, which I think is a good thing.

  3. slc1 says

    Re D.C. Sessions@ #1

    I bet that Scalia the schmuck would find it a problem if it had been a liberal Democrat involved.

  4. Who Knows? says

    I agree with Gregory, sex in public restrooms is something that should be discouraged. Once at a gym a couple guys were clearly having sex in one of the toilet stalls. It wasn’t something I wanted to be a part of at 6:00 AM while getting ready to work.

  5. dave says

    I agree with Gregory, sex in public restrooms is something that should be discouraged. Once at a gym a couple guys were clearly having sex in one of the toilet stalls. It wasn’t something I wanted to be a part of at 6:00 AM while getting ready to work.

    Then you shouldnt have joined them.

  6. Ben P says

    Physioproffe has already commented negatively.

    Is there anything that Physioproffe doesn’t comment negatively on?

  7. says

    He’s STILL fighing this battle, and thus reminding everyone how lame and silly his defense is? What a brilliant career move! I’m sure he’ll have to reenact it in court — with his pants down for realism, of course.

    That would have to be one of the least desirable jury-duty gigs EVER. A grizzly murder case would be horriffic, but at least one could endure that with the knowledge that it’s an important case that has to be decided for the good of all. This “wide stance” thingie? Not so much.

  8. Ben P says

    Then you shouldnt have joined them.

    I realize this is probably snark, but there are reasonably well understood limits here. Gay people don’t get any more of a pass on PDA than straight people would. If you’re at the gym showering and changing and a guy brings a girl into the locker room for a quickie, that’s inappropriate as well.

  9. Ben P says

    He’s STILL fighing this battle, and thus reminding everyone how lame and silly his defense is? What a brilliant career move! I’m sure he’ll have to reenact it in court — with his pants down for realism, of course.

    Well, not specifically on his criminal charge.

    Craig was arrested and pled guilty to misdemeanor “disorderly conduct.” (Which is entirely reasonable given it’s probably a $100 fine and court costs) Then the story broke in the media and he tried rescind his guilty plea, insisting he wasn’t guilty. His motion on that point and his appeals were denied.

    However, Craig apparently used campaign donations to pay his lawyers. It is permissible for candidates to use campaign funds to pay for legal expenses incurred by the campaign (and I guess for legal expenses incurred as a result of their official duties). The FEC sued him saying this was an improper use of campaign funds. His defense to the FEC suit is that the charge arose of his conduct during official travel, therefore using funds for defense was ok.

  10. Phillip IV says

    Craig contends that the airport bathroom trip fell under his official, duties as senator

    I suspect a misunderstanding of the concept “making oneself available to one’s constituents”.

  11. dingojack says

    Ben P – Is that your prudishness that’s showing?*
    Your argument seems to have sailed into: ‘I don’t mind gay people – just as long as they don’t show affection in public’ territory.
    What’s next? Women shouldn’t be allowed to breast-feed babies in public because someone may be offended?
    Dingo
    ——–
    * I too would find the noise of two people having sex disconcerting. But I acknowledge that’s a problem based more on my prudishness, than their conduct per se

  12. says

    “I suspect a misunderstanding of the concept “making oneself available to one’s constituents”.

    Especially since his constituents are NOT in Min-A-So-Ta.

    Sex, in ANY restroom, gonna be pretty oogy., now the kitchen, otoh, there’s a place to have some wild sex, close enough to the fridge to grab a frosty, afta!

  13. D. C. Sessions says

    Dingo, I think this might fall into the “don’t frighten the horses” territory.

  14. Ben P says

    Ben P – Is that your prudishness that’s showing?*
    Your argument seems to have sailed into: ‘I don’t mind gay people – just as long as they don’t show affection in public’ territory.
    What’s next? Women shouldn’t be allowed to breast-feed babies in public because someone may be offended?
    Dingo
    ——–
    * I too would find the noise of two people having sex disconcerting. But I acknowledge that’s a problem based more on my prudishness, than their conduct per se

    No, that’s exactly what I’m arguing against. That is, giving gay people a pass on otherwise reasonably well known social rules because doing so would be seen as bias. It’s common etiquette that public displays of affection are inappropriate. but there are certainly levels. If a gay couple hugging or holding hands or briefly kissing makes you uncomfortable, you can sit there and be uncomfortable for all I care. Those are things that are generally tolerated in public places.

    If you’re “making out” in public, you’re making a scene, regardless of your orientation and it’s inappropriate under societal rules. I don’t think it is, or should be illegal, but I feel absolutely no problem with disapproving of it.

    On the other hand, most jurisdictions in the country make having sex in a “public place” illegal or treat it as disorderly conduct. I absolutely think those statutes should be enforced evenly regardless of gender, but I don’t have a particular problem with the fact that they exist. And if you seriously think otherwise…well, I’d like to see you try to explain that to some public gathering of people why they should tolerate that.

    Breast feeding I see as a special case. Ordinary nudity is a little more ambiguous in my mind, but I think jurisdictions are within their rights to prohibit public nudity if they wish. However, I see quite a bit of merit in that, should a mother choose to breastfeed that choice should be protected, and then in that case requiring her to stand in a closet while she does it is an undue burden on that choice.

  15. dingojack says

    D. C. Sessions – how will you fit them into the toilet stall? (Unless you do the whole Godfather thing)!
    ;) Dingo

  16. dingojack says

    Ben P – So it’s basically ‘Ban it, because it makes me feel uncomfortable and it offends me’.
    So one does have the right not to be offended*.
    Dingo
    ——–
    * Surely not! an argument to restrict ‘speech’, here? Is that a pig I saw flying past the window? ;)

  17. Who Knows? says

    Dave @ 6 says:

    Then you shouldnt have joined them.

    I didn’t physically join in, however when people are having sex in a bathroom stall there is very little left to the imagination as the partition does not provide much privacy. If public sex is your thing, that’s fine with me but when you’re having public sex you have made those in the area participants, whether or not they are willing.

  18. Ben P says

    Ben P – So it’s basically ‘Ban it, because it makes me feel uncomfortable and it offends me’.
    So one does have the right not to be offended*.
    Dingo
    ——–
    * Surely not! an argument to restrict ‘speech’, here? Is that a pig I saw flying past the window? ;)

    Like I said, I want to see you argue the point that public sex ought to be tolerated to, oh say, a crowded city counsel meeting.

    Let me know how that goes over.

  19. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Surely not! an argument to restrict ‘speech’, here? – dingojack

    Hmm. Does “Uhn, uhn, ah, uhn, ah, ahhh, aahhhh, uhn, uhn, uuuuuhhhnnnn, ahhhhhhhh, oh WOW!” come* under the category of First Amendment protected speech?

    *Pun unintended, but left in.

  20. vmanis1 says

    I find toilet sex revolting on many levels, but I feel it only fair to point out that toilet police are a holdover from the days when gay sex was illegal, and therefore the toilet cop could go in, arrest a bunch of guys, and quickly get guilty pleas on the grounds that `you don’t want this to appear in the newspapers’.

    I was for a time on the gay liaison committee to the Vancouver Police Department back in the 1980s. The police were not as evolved then as now, and I remember one meeting when the police representative asked us to tell `our people’ not to have sex in the restrooms in a downtown Vancouver mall. I responded that all the mall had to do was to put up signs saying `This restroom is under surveillance’, and have janitorial staff make frequent, noisy visits to clean the place up. This took the wind out of the police’s sails, but the problem in this mall disappeared.

    The appropriate thing to do with people having sex in a restroom is for staff to bang on the door and say `stop that now’ loudly. Courteous signs, and extending the partitions so they meet the floor, can further discourage that kind of activity. This of course leaves the toilet policemen, with expertise in toe-tapping codes, unemployed, but that’s no great loss, they weren’t doing anything productive anyway.

  21. says

    Different people have different ideas about what is and is not acceptable PDA. But have sex in a public place is over the line regardless of the gender of the participants.

  22. says

    @dingojack – Public affection, perfectly fine. Trying to use a public restroom while someone is getting a blowjob in the next stall over… not so fine.

    Even I, as a gay man who is most definitely not a prude, believe that some activities should remain reasonably private.

  23. Infophile says

    @20 Ben P:

    Like I said, I want to see you argue the point that public sex ought to be tolerated to, oh say, a crowded city counsel meeting.

    Let me know how that goes over.

    That’s an argument ad populum. Just because something is a common belief doesn’t mean it’s right. It may be an argument that it’s impossible to change in the short-term, but that’s all you could do with it.

    Aside from that… am I the only one who’s more concerned about the hygiene component of sex in bathrooms than the PDA component? …Okay then. Carry on.

  24. dingojack says

    Infophile – Ben P’s “It’s common etiquette that public displays of affection are inappropriate…” should have been a giveaway.
    Really? Common etiquette is it? Who decided? How was it decided, When and where was the meeting held? Were minutes kept? Are the minutes publicly available?
    :) Dingo

  25. Ben P says

    That’s an argument ad populum. Just because something is a common belief doesn’t mean it’s right. It may be an argument that it’s impossible to change in the short-term, but that’s all you could do with it.

    Aside from that… am I the only one who’s more concerned about the hygiene component of sex in bathrooms than the PDA component? …Okay then. Carry on.

    The argument serves to demonstrate the fact that the position/argument that sex in a public restroom ought to be tolerated is way out of the mainstream.

    You stand up and argue that if people are having sex in the bathroom next to you, you ought to simply ignore it because you’re letting “your prudishness” limit “their freedom” you’re going to let a lot of bizarre looks and probably some suggestions that you seek mental help.

    It is entirely reasonable that society prohibits some behaviors in public that it cannot or ought not regulate in private. It you want to think about it in free speech terms, they’re reasonable time place and manner restrictions. It isn’t precisely analogous because sex isn’t speech, neither is say, getting drunk to the point you are sick.

    If you get drunk to the point you fall down on the sidewalk and puke, you will likely be arrested and charged with “public intoxication.” Usually the statute defines this as being in public and intoxicated to the point that you cause “annoyance, embarrassment and alarm to others.”

    If you are in a private place, say your own home, or the home of a friend. You are perfectly welcome to get extremely intoxicated. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a valid reason to prohibit the behavior in public.

    Same with sex. If you are in a private place, you have a right to engage in whatever conduct you want and to have as many people present as you want. But that’s not a valid reason to suggest that society cannot permissibly regulate that sort of conduct when it is performed in public.

  26. Ben P says

    Infophile – Ben P’s “It’s common etiquette that public displays of affection are inappropriate…” should have been a giveaway.
    Really? Common etiquette is it? Who decided? How was it decided, When and where was the meeting held? Were minutes kept? Are the minutes publicly available?

    There’s no due process component to societal disapproval, only legal sanctions. You’re perfectly free to act in an inappropriate, but not illegal manner, and everyone else is perfectly free to approve or disapprove of that if they wish.

    The argument in this context is no more valid than conservatives ranting about political correctness. If I were to drop the N-Word in conversation you, and most people, would judge me accordingly. Suggesting that this sort of interpersonal judgement is invalid because there is no such thing as a commonly accepted way of acting in society is a little nonsensical.

  27. Ben P says

    the first sentence didn’t come out right. I meant to say there is no due process component to societal disapproval, it’s only necessary for legal sanctions.

  28. dingojack says

    Within living memory it was ‘common courtesy’ for Negroes to step off the sidewalk (and avert their eyes if it were a woman) if a white was waling past.
    I suppose that it is ‘common courtesy’ means no change should occur, don’t let’s even think about it. It’s the law, it’s the status quo, it’s just the way it is. We wouldn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed* now would we?

    Oh and I still don’t know where the minutes of this great meeting are being held. You can help me with that can’t you Ben?

    Dingo
    ——–
    * that’s the real issue isn’t it? You feel embarrassed by people having sex. (Others are more concerned by the hygiene issue).

  29. dingojack says

    A friend of mine went to have a piss in a toilet in a bar. Taking advantage of the acoustics he began:
    Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone
    Susanne the plans they made put an end to you
    I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song
    I just can’t remember who to send it to -

    He was mightily surprised when three others in the stalls joined in on the chorus.
    :) Dingo

  30. Ben P says

    Within living memory it was ‘common courtesy’ for Negroes to step off the sidewalk (and avert their eyes if it were a woman) if a white was waling past.
    I suppose that it is ‘common courtesy’ means no change should occur, don’t let’s even think about it. It’s the law, it’s the status quo, it’s just the way it is. We wouldn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed* now would we?

    You want to push for a society where public sex acts are part of the normal behavior, by all means, feel free to do so. I think Game of Thrones featured a society with that particular social convention, …among others.

  31. dingojack says

    ‘The Game of Thrones’ featured Bonobos (Pan paniscus)? Ohhh – I change my mind, I’m a believer!
    @@
    Dingo

  32. Synfandel says

    I remember this one. He said that he had inadvertently intruded into the next stall because he takes a “wide stance” on the toilet. My thought at the time was that if he still had his trousers around his ankles, he not only took a wide stance, but also had wide pants.

  33. zmidponk says

    @dingojack, where do you stand on public nudity? I ask because most people would have a problem with folk being entirely naked wherever and whenever they have the urge to be. However, going by what you are saying, this is people’s prudishness, not the naked people’s conduct, per se.

    Oh, and, your comparison to ‘Negroes’ at #32 doesn’t wash – that’s a case of ‘common courtesy’ clearly placing one group above another based on racist principles. This is simply a case of ‘common courtesy’ requiring everyone to curtail their behaviour in the same manner out of respect for others, regardless of who they are, what skin colour they have, or their sexuality – a straight couple banging away in a bathroom stall is just as discourteous as a gay couple, for the same reasons (if you ignore, for a moment, that there is the additional factor of many public bathrooms being divided into male and female ones, so that could entail the guy bringing his girl into the male ones or the girl bringing her guy into the female ones to do the deed, which would make it slightly more discourteous).

  34. dingojack says

    Ben – Still not seeing any link to the minutes of that Grand Meeting.
    The point is that ‘common courtesy’ is frequently neither. It is often merely the decision of the minority designed to protect them from embarrassment or exposure to what makes them uncomfortable, without demonstrating any kind of compelling interest for doing so.
    You can, of course, offer plenty of compelling reasons for not being exposed to things you consider to be embarrassing.
    Dingo

  35. says

    The reason that being naked in public is unacceptable, the legal reason, is that folks find it offensive. That’s the gist of it. It’s dressed up with a lot of other nonsense about public health and whatnot (some of which is germane in certain cases) but it’s mostly about prudishness.

    I am not the least bit interested in seeing the vast majority of humans naked but I could learn to live with it fairly quickly if I had to.

    Spitting, urinating and defecating and public, or having sex and leaving lots of Santorum on various surfaces that others have to use? those things I’m in favor of banning.

  36. Michael Heath says

    democommie writes:

    The reason that being naked in public is unacceptable, the legal reason, is that folks find it offensive. That’s the gist of it. It’s dressed up with a lot of other nonsense about public health and whatnot (some of which is germane in certain cases) but it’s mostly about prudishness.

    I’m frequently pointing out to people that incorrectly assert we have no right to be offended that not only do we have such a right, but the government sometimes protects that right at the expense of other people’s rights. Bans on nudity would be an illustrative example of such.

    However, I’m not sure these bans are very defensible from a constitutional perspective if we ignore current holdings and instead make our best possible case.

  37. dingojack says

    Demo – “Spitting, urinating and defecating …”

    Gee your sex life sure is messy – glad I’m not Mrs. Demo! :D

    Dingo

  38. says

    Michael Heath:

    Did you mean to say:

    “I’m frequently pointing out to people that incorrectly assert we have no right to NOT be offended”

    If so, I pretty much agree with your premise. The grreater good of society in these times, at least, in most countries leans toward making public nudity a rare event. As you say, their arguments are tenuous re: passing
    Constitutional muster, but I’m okay with not having to look at folks like me in their birthday suits.

    dingojack::

    “Gee your sex life sure is messy – glad I’m not Mrs. Demo! :”

    There is, tres tragic!, no Mrs. or ex-Mrs. democommie for reasons that are unclear to me. I mean I KNOW that I’m a swell fucking guy…it’s prolly the hair.

  39. Michael Heath says

    Yes democommie, thanks for the correction. I was asserting we have the right to not be offended.

    When reading the Altemeyer book on authoritarianism I took his authoritarian test. For every question but one I answered the opposite of what authoritarians would do, actually the most extreme contrarian answer on every question but that one.

    The one exception was on this question:

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with nudist camps.

    Where I disagreed with the statement, consistent with what authoritarians would answer. I don’t recall the level to which I disagreed where several strengths are offered, I probably moderately disagreed where my point of reference was I don’t condone taking children to such places. That alone wasn’t enough to keep me from being in the most non-authoritarian category Altemeyer assigns.

    I also suspect my defense of that position would be weak.

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