Ted Stevens Convicted on Corruption Charges
Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, the longest serving Republican in that body, has been convicted of seven felony counts related to corruption and covering up said corruption.
Shortly before 4 p.m., the jury convicted the 84-year-old senator for making false statements by failing to report more than $250,000 in gifts from Bill Allen, the former head of Veco Corp., and other friends.
A defiant Stevens released a statement later Monday, saying that he was “obviously disappointed in the verdict but not surprised given the repeated instances of prosecutorial misconduct in this case.”
The senator vowed to “fight this unjust verdict with every ounce of energy I have” and said he would return home to defend his seat. “I am innocent. This verdict is the result of the unconscionable manner in which the Justice Department lawyers conducted this trial,” Stevens added. “I ask that Alaskans and my Senate colleagues stand with me as I pursue my rights. I remain a candidate for the United States Senate. I will come home on Wednesday and ask for your vote.”
Senate Republicans already stripped Stevens of his leadership positions when he was indicted in July. Under GOP rules, any indicted senator must be removed temporarily from their positions and permanently if convicted. Stevens was ranking member on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and on the Appropriations Defense subcommittee.
Stevens is still on the ballot against Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D), and observers will be watching to see what he does before Election Day. A spokeswoman for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, said the governor would likely release a statement through the governor’s office, but a Palin aide in the governor’s office in Juneau said she was unsure if that release was forthcoming.
Thus far, it appears Palin has done nothing, which is simply astounding. One expects “mavericks” who “fight corruption” to take a stand on such things.
The Directors at RedState initially endorsed Democrat Mark Begich for Stevens’ seat and Democrat Ethan Berkowitz for Don Young’s at-large House seat but retracted that merely to a “Don’t Vote For Ted Stevens For Senate or Don Young for House At Large in Alaska” plea. Six years of a Democrat in a safe Republican seat strikes me as a bridge (to nowhere) too far, since Palin could appoint a Republican to Stevens’ seat until 2010, in which case a clean Republican could be found to run. Then again, Palin’s not exactly untainted herself.
While I’m no fan of Stevens and happy to see him come to the ignominius end he deserves, one can’t help but feel a bit sorry for him. He’s been in government service nearly six decades, including four in the Senate. Actions that were once simply “how things were done” are now viewed, rightly, as corruption. He hasn’t adapted to the times.
UPDATE: Dave Schuler notes that Palin issued a statement fairly quickly:
“This is a sad day for Alaska and a sad day for Senator Stevens and his family,” she said on the tarmac at Richmond International Airport. “The verdict shines a light on the corrupting influence of the big oil service company up there in Alaska that was allowed to control too much of our state. And that control was part of the culture of corruption that I was elected to fight, and that fight must always move forward regardless of party affiliation or seniority or even past service.
“As Governor of the State of Alaska, I will carefully now monitor the situation and I’ll take any appropriate action as needed. In the meantime, I ask the people of Alaska to join me in respecting the workings of our judicial system and I’m confident that Senator Stevens from this point on will do the right thing for the people of Alaska,” she said.
That’s a little tepid, although one understands the desire not to rub salt in Stevens’ wounds. Still, the man has just been convicted of seven felonies and she’s blaming the oil companies?!