Tracing the Footsteps Before the Foot Taps

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sen. Larry Craig continues to work against his own Sept. 30 deadline -- he might want to give himself some wiggle room on that -- for having his guilty plea to disorderly conduct revoked.

His lawyers and supporters insist that he's got a solid case to show his innocence and that he was coerced into pleading guilty to behaving badly in a Minneapolis airport men's room.

But his Senate colleagues have abandoned him, and the blogosphere has pronounced him guilty. For example, there were scurrilous reports that Craig went out of his way to reach the bathroom where he encountered the waiting police Sgt. Dave Karsnia.

In fact, a Loop investigation so far indicates that is not the case.

Sources say Craig's incoming flight from Boise, Northwest Flight 1276, most always uses the G14 to G16 gate area. His connecting flight to Washington, the one Craig worried about missing, Northwest Flight 672, leaves at 1:05 p.m., usually from around Gate C3.

Assuming that the Boise flight arrived on time at 11:44 a.m., Craig would have had to move smartly to get to his rendezvous with Karsnia by 12:13 p.m. It's about a three-quarter-mile hike through the sprawling airport up to that bathroom, which is, assuming no gate changes, right on the way to his departure gate.

But there's a minor problem: Craig apparently passed not one, not two, not three but four bathrooms along the way before choosing the very one that an airport official called "the biggest hotspot" for sexual encounters. Still, he didn't go out of his way to get there.

If Craig does get his guilty plea waived, the good news is he can get back the $575 he paid in fines and costs. The bad news is he would still have to stand trial on the original charges.

If that happens, there is a glimmer of good news for Craig: Cameras are not permitted in the county courts, a court spokeswoman said yesterday.

Quit Job, Keep Government House

Federal pay may not be great, but, hey, those benefits can go a long way. Just ask Cristina V. Beato.

She's the former high-ranking political appointee at the Department of Health and Human Services who helped tone down the department's 2004 breast-feeding awareness campaign after the baby formula industry complained about it.

For years, Beato enjoyed a special federal perk -- government-subsidized housing on the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda -- while holding a variety of positions at HHS, including acting assistant secretary for health, principal deputy assistant secretary for health and special adviser to the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

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