Sen. Mike Crapo's DUI arrest: The fallout

The formerly alcohol-abstaining Idaho Republican could face some blowback from his party — and his conservative constituents

Idaho Sen. Michael Crapo's police booking photo, taken after the Republican was arrested for driving under the influence.
(Image credit: AP Photo/Alexandria Police Department)

Sen. Mike Crapo (R) has represented Idaho in the Senate since 1999, and he's slated to take the top GOP spot on the Senate Banking Committee when the 113th Congress convenes on Jan. 3. The next day, Jan. 4, he has a court date in Alexandria, Va., to face charges relating to his arrest early Sunday for driving under the influence of alcohol. Police says that Crapo — a 61-year-old Mormon who has said previously that he doesn't drink alcohol — ran a red light, failed field sobriety tests, was arrested at 12:45 a.m., and released on a $1,000 bond at about 5 a.m. He was alone in his vehicle, and his blood-alcohol level was 0.11, easily above Virginia's 0.08 limit.

On Sunday, Crapo issued this vaguely worded apology:

I am deeply sorry for the actions that resulted in this circumstance. I made a mistake for which I apologize to my family, my Idaho constituents and any others who have put their trust in me. I accept total responsibility and will deal with whatever penalty comes my way in this matter. I will also undertake measures to ensure that this circumstance is never repeated.

As soon as the commentariat got over the fact that there's a senator with the last name Crapo (pronounced KRAY-poh, in case you're wondering), the inevitable jokes started:

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Of course, there could be some serious fallout for the three-term senator. The only thing that sticks to your political career more than getting caught flouting the law is doing it in a way that appears to violate your convictions. With Craig, who publicly opposed gay rights but was arrested on suspicions of soliciting gay sex in an airport lavatory, the arrest effectively ended his Senate career. Other politicians, like Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) — a social conservative implicated as a client of a D.C. prostitution ring in 2007 — have weathered their scandals with minimal disruption to their public-service jobs. For Crapo, the big test will be how his constituents react. "Crapo graudated from Brigham Young University, and served earlier in his life as a bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," a religion that forbids drinking, says BuzzFeed. And a DUI arrest could spell special trouble in Idaho, "where about a quarter of the population — and a considerable portion of the donor class — consists of Latter-day Saints."

On the other hand, Crapo doesn't face the voters again until 2016, and in 2010 he got an impressive 71 percent of the vote. Still, says Rick Moran at American Thinker, "Getting behind the wheel of a car when there's even a chance you may be legally intoxicated shows very poor judgment."

I don't care if he's a Mormon or a Druid, if he doesn't know that drinking and driving is extraordinarily dangerous he doesn't belong in the Senate.... Recently, there has been a debate over whether or drunk driving laws are too strict. There are some countries that give offenders mandatory jail time for driving over the legal limit, so there are some who say we aren't strict enough. Senator Crapo is extremely fortunate he didn't get in an accident. He is also lucky that he will escape with a slap on his wrist.

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