Barney Frank calls Craig a "Hypocrite"

Associated Press

Thursday August 30, 2007

Rep. Barney Frank says embattled Idaho Sen. Larry Craig is a hypocrite on gay rights issues, but he doesn't think the Republican senator should resign.

Frank's comments, made in a telephone interview Wednesday with The Associated Press, came as some Republican lawmakers, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona, called on Craig to step down after being caught in a men's room undercover police operation.

But Frank, one of two openly gay members of Congress and a prominent voice on gay rights, said Craig should serve out the remainder of his term. The third-term senator is up for re-election next year.

"What he did, it's hypocritical, but it's not an abuse of his office in the sense that he was taking money for corrupt votes," said Frank, D-Mass. "I think people should resign when they have clearly done the job in a way that is dishonest."

Added Frank: "It's one thing to say that someone can't be trusted to vote without being corrupt, it's another to say that he can't be trusted to go to the bathroom by himself."

Craig pleaded guilty in August to a charge of disorderly conduct following his June 11 arrest in a men's room at the Minneapolis airport. A police report alleged he attempted to engage in a homosexual encounter with an undercover officer.

Craig has since recanted his guilty plea, and said on Tuesday that he did nothing wrong. He also said he was not gay.

"This is the hypocrisy -- it's to deny legal equality to gay people, but then to engage in gay behavior," Frank said.

Frank said people who are wrongly accused, particularly members of the Senate, usually do not plead guilty. He called Craig's denial "implausible," given the facts of the case.

"The normal reaction if you are falsely accused is indignation, not submission, particularly if you are a senator," he said.

Frank said Craig would probably lose the GOP primary if he runs for re-election.

"Even gay men who have not been involved in this kind of public sex situation generally get forced out of Republican politics because of opposition within the Republican Party," Frank said.

"This is unfortunate, but the fact that he's gay is going to be a problem in the Republican primary."

Frank was reprimanded by the House in 1990 for using his influence on behalf of prostitute Stephen Gobie. Frank admitted paying Gobie for sex and writing a letter on Gobie's behalf. Frank told constituents at a meeting he did not handle the pressures of being a closeted gay man in public life. He has won re-election ever since.

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