U.S. Sen. Larry Craig filed a formal appeal with the state Court of Appeals on Tuesday over his disorderly conduct conviction for an incident in the men's room at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in June.

Among other things, the Idaho Republican argued that his behavior didn't constitute a crime.

Craig has been trying to withdraw his mail-in guilty plea from August. Hennepin County District Judge Charles Porter Jr. rejected his bid in October. He has now filed an appeal, and his lawyers have asked to argue the case orally before the court. Arguments have not been scheduled.

The state has 45 days to respond.

In the 27-page brief, the lawyers note that one element of disorderly conduct requires that "the conduct at issue have a tendency to alarm or anger others." The brief noted the specific use of the plural "others." The senator was arrested during a layover between flights on June 11 by undercover officer Sgt. Dave Karsnia. He claimed the senator's toe-tapping and hand motion in a men's room stall were indications he wanted to have sex. Craig said he was picking up a piece of tissue on the floor and the gestures were misunderstood.

Craig's plea also fails to support the legal requirement that the conduct be "offensive, obscene, abusive, boisterous or noisy," the brief said.

The legal brief said that Karsnia could not be offended by the conduct because he invited it. The brief noted that in Karsnia's own statement, he said Craig tapped his foot, then "Karsnia tapped his own foot in response."

In the complaint against Craig, Karsnia noted that tapping feet is "a signal often used by persons communicating a desire to engage in sexual conduct," the brief said. "Thus Sergeant Karsnia undoubtedly intended that tapping his own foot be such a signal," the brief said.

At no point does the complaint against Craig allege that Karsnia "observed any lewd or sexual conduct, or that [Craig] engaged in any behavior that was otherwise offensive, obscene, abusive, boisterous or noisy," the brief said.

Craig at one point said he would resign last fall, but he has since decided to finish his term.

Craig initially claimed he was pressured to plead guilty because of an investigation by the Idaho Statesman into his sexual orientation. The newspaper has since published the names of four men who claim to have had encounters of varying intimacy with the senator. Craig has declined to comment.

In a written statement Tuesday, Craig's attorney Billy Martin said: "Throughout this trying time, Sen. Craig has maintained his innocence and has remained a dedicated public servant who continues to serve the people of Idaho with honor and distinction as he has done for the past 27 years."

Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747