State Sen. Brent Hill reacted with the same disbelief that friends, family and political peers felt when they heard of U.S. Sen. Mike Crapos arrest on suspicion of drunken driving.
You must be talking about somebody else, said Hill, a Republican from Rexburg, when his son broke the news to him Sunday.
Authorities say Crapo ran a red light early Sunday in Alexandria, Va., and registered a blood alcohol content of 0.11 during a breath test. The legal limit is .08.
A lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Crapos image is now threatened. He has held high positions within the church, which prohibits drinking. He has served as bishop of his local ward and as stake president, which put him atop six to 12 wards, church spokesman Brian Whitlock said.
Longtime friend and Republican National Committee member Damond Watkins said hes never known Crapo to drink alcohol.
Mike ... is one of those iconic figures within the LDS community of being above all of that, Watkins said. This is completely, completely out of character for him.
Watkins said hes aware of no plans on the part of the Republican Party to respond to the charges against Crapo.
As a senator hes done a phenomenal job leading Idaho, but as a friend, my heart aches for him and his family, Watkins said.
Hill is the Idaho Senates top Republican, a position Crapo held from 1988 to 1992, and also is a Mormon.
Obviously, I think many of us are very disappointed, Hill said. As a citizen of ... Idaho, we have a right to be disappointed, and as a member of his faith, Im disappointed that a tenet of our faith didnt mean any more to him than evidently it did.
CHURCH REMAINS MUM
About a quarter of Idahos population belongs to the Mormon church, which also prohibits members from using coffee, tea and tobacco.
The church has no statement or response to this particular situation, Whitlock said.
It normally handles matters privately between members who use alcohol and their bishops or stake presidents, he said.
Mormons must follow the churchs guidance including its prohibition on alcohol to participate fully in the faiths rituals, such as temple activities that are central to the religion.
Several phone calls Monday to the churchs headquarters in Salt Lake City were not returned.
In a statement, Crapo, 61, took responsibility and pledged to ensure that this circumstance is never repeated.
The states junior U.S. senator, Republican Jim Risch, was very surprised by the DUI, spokesman Brad Hoaglun said.
But Hoaglun said Crapo, a cancer survivor whose public image has been clean, should be able to count on Idaho residents forgiveness and understanding during whats clearly a difficult time.
As a friend and colleague, I offer my support and help to him in any way I can, Risch said in a statement. I have full confidence that Sen. Crapo will continue his dedicated and unselfish service to the people of Idaho.
Idahos two U.S. representatives, Raul Labrador and Mike Simpson, are both Mormons, though Simpson has been open with constituents and the media about drinking and smoking cigarettes.
Neither Republican responded to a request for comment.
Idaho politicians getting arrested for drunken driving is nothing new: Butch Otter was arrested in the early 1990s when he was lieutenant governor; Democratic state Sen. Edgar Malepeai of Pocatello was arrested in 2009; and former state Sen. John McGee, a Caldwell Republican, was arrested in 2011 after taking a car that didnt belong to him.
But none of the three is a Mormon.
The U.S. Senate adjourned last week and isnt expected back in session until Wednesday. Its unclear why Crapo had remained in the Washington, D.C., area during the start of the Christmas holiday.
According to the police report, he was alone in his car. Neither Crapo nor his staff provided details.
Crapo was flying back to Idaho to be with his family Monday and had no comment, said spokesman Lindsay Nothern.
The lawmaker faces a court date of Jan. 4.
GROWING D.C. CLOUT
Since being elected in 1998, Crapo has slowly built a reputation in the Senate as a conservative open to compromise. Hes about to gain considerable clout, poised to move up to become the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee.
The panel, which has a Democratic majority, considers a range of issues, including housing policy and financial regulations.
Burdett Loomis, professor of political science and congressional expert at the University of Kansas, said he does not see the DUI incident as having much impact on Crapos standing.
I dont see this as too much of a problem, said Loomis. He said all the right stuff at first. And hes not up (for re-election) till 2016.
Crapo has also been active in budget matters. He is one of the Senates Gang of Eight, four Democrats and four Republicans who have sought unsuccessfully to cobble together a bipartisan budget deal. They havent done much lately while awaiting White House-congressional negotiations on averting the fiscal cliff.
Crapo, like virtually all his colleagues, has not been involved in those talks. But he was a member of the 2010 Simpson-Bowles commission, a bipartisan group that offered a broad series of recommendations to cut future deficits.
Crapo voted for the plan, which included spending reductions as well as policy changes.
In 2010, Crapo sponsored a bill to cut taxes on small beer brewers. He said he supported the bill for pro-business, not pro-beer, reasons.
He told The Associated Press at the time that he abstains from alcohol, and he pledged to have a root beer to celebrate if the bill passed; however, the bill ultimately stalled.
The Post Register in Idaho Falls contributed to this report.