Sen. Larry Craig

BOISE, Idaho — Organizers had planned a pleasant dinner for Saturday, during which the tiny Idaho Hall of Fame would add a dozen inductees and renew its aim of honoring "real life heroes," as its Web site states.

Then Sen. Larry Craig, one of this year's honorees, got arrested in an airport men's room, and the private, nonprofit hall's quiet evening out turned into a media spectacle.

Michael Ritz, an Idaho Hall of Fame board member, said he has been bombarded with calls from national outlets wanting to know whether they can set up cameras at the $50-a-head function.

They can't go inside, he said, but they're likely to be waiting for Craig's arrival.

Dan Whiting, Craig's spokesman in Washington, said the lawmaker who served a decade in the House before his 1990 election to the Senate aims to be at Saturday's ceremony.

"He is planning to and is excited that at least some Idahoans have not forgotten his three decades of public service to Idaho," Whiting said in an e-mail.

Craig, 62, was chosen for induction last spring, well before his arrest in a sex sting at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport in June. Among the other inductees are Chris Petersen, coach of the Boise State football team, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, who is vying to replace Craig in 2008.

It just didn't seem right to renege on Craig's nomination, Ritz said.

"We thought, 'It's kind of going back on your word,"' he said. "Once a person has been sent a letter and voted into the Hall of Fame, it would be kind of like breaking a promise."

Idaho's senior Republican lawmaker pleaded guilty in August to disorderly conduct, then unsuccessfully tried to withdraw his plea after the episode became painfully public.

He initially said he intended to resign, then vowed to serve out the last 15 months of his term.

Perry Swisher, a longtime Idaho journalist and lawmaker who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002, said that if anything, the controversy over Craig should help the group sell dinner tickets — even though he's not going.

"I'm not sufficiently interested," he said Friday.