It’s been a subject of speculation for months in Boise – how Idaho Statesman political columnist Dan Popkey spent five months, full-time, investigating a blogger’s allegations that Sen. Larry Craig was a closeted homosexual who had engaged in sex acts at a public restroom near his office, but the investigation had never resulted in anything being published. Popkey disappeared from the paper through all those months, didn’t cover the legislative session, and wrote no columns. Then he returned to the paper without comment in late spring and resumed writing columns.
Today, the Statesman published his account on its front page. It details how Popkey traced down multiple allegations, but most came to naught. The man who reported the restroom incident, which he said probably occurred in 2004, offered no proof other than his word. Popkey also interviewed two other men who claimed Craig had made advances to them, one in 1967 and one in 1994. He investigated clear back to Craig’s college days, and detailed how Craig inadvertently grabbed the national spotlight in 1982 by being the only member of Congress to issue a denial of involvement in a congressional page gay-sex scandal – when no members had been named. The two pages involved later recanted their stories. He also traced down dozens of other allegations “that proved untrue, unclear or unverifiable.”
As he details in his account today, Popkey’s investigation culminated in a May 14 interview with Craig, at which Craig, accompanied by his wife, strenuously and specifically denied all the allegations, denied being gay, and said he’d never engaged in sex with a man or solicited sex with a man. The article states, “Until Monday, the Statesman had declined to run a story about Craig’s sex life, because the paper didn’t have enough corroborating evidence and because of the senator’s steadfast denial.” Less than one month after that interview, Craig was arrested at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport as part of a police investigation into restroom sex there, and 20 days ago, he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct. Click here to read the Statesman’s coverage.
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