Rich History of Washington Scandal

The Associated Press
Tuesday, August 28, 2007; 7:34 PM

WASHINGTON -- Idaho Sen. Larry Craig isn't sticking to the script about how Washington sex scandals play out. In fact, he's following it backwards.

The rich history of powerful figures accused of misbehavior shows they tend to deny it indignantly, try to ride the storm with tortured explanations, then give in to contrition if they're cornered.

Not Craig. First came an admission of guilt _ and now the defiant protestation of innocence.

His declaration Tuesday that "I did nothing wrong" came weeks after he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in the men's room at Minneapolis airport. He vowed to tough it out even as his party's leaders called for a Senate ethics investigation.

Eric Dezenhall, a crisis-management consultant, has seen many follow this unwritten rule when fighting to save their career from scandal: "If you're guilty, repent; if you're innocent attack."

That could prove tough in Craig's case, in light of his plea. The Hennepin County, Minn., court docket said he paid $575 in fines and fees and was put on unsupervised probation for a year. A 10-day sentence in the county workhouse was stayed.

The undercover office who arrested Craig in the men's room alleged he had engaged in actions "often used by persons communicating a desire to engage in sexual conduct."

There's no clear road map to surviving the revelation of unsavory behavior _ what works for one figure sinks another.

Gary Hart saw his presidential ambitions dashed by his "fool mistake" while Bill Clinton overcame multiple "bimbo eruptions" to win the presidency, then survived impeachment in the Monica Lewinsky scandal to leave office with high ratings.

Now, Capitol Hill is again looking into misconduct by one of its own, with memories still fresh of the explosive page scandal a year ago.

That episode led to the swift resignation of Florida Republican Rep. Mark Foley, months of recrimination during the election campaign over the stewardship of young people serving as congressional pages, and a criminal investigation that continues in Florida over whether Foley tried to seduce underage boys.

A scandal sampler:

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2007 The Associated Press