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?!

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Congress, Law and the Courts, US Politics, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:
  2. Billy says:

    I actually kind of feel bad for the guy. His politics are abhorrent to me, but federal crime or not, its very easy to identify with how something so apparently innocuous can bite you if you relax a little too much.

    On another note, wingnuts, I think it’s safe for you to start panicking now.

  3. Boyd says:

    You slam Palin because she hasn’t gone nuclear on Stevens’ ass immediately upon announcement of the verdict, but you feel sorry for the Senator because he hasn’t figured out that constituent bribes are illegal?

    Irrationality much, James?

  4. Triumph says:

    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.

    I am not sure what you mean. Stevens is still a sitting Senator and running for re-election.

    Your scenario only holds if he resigns or is expelled from the Senate. If he is defeated next week, the liberal assumes the office in January and stays for 6 years.

  5. Triumph says:

    Palin reacts.

    That should be “Sort of reacts”–since she appears to endorse his decision to stay in the race without quite saying so.

    She failed to answer reporters’ follow-ups for clarification.

  6. James Joyner says:

    You slam Palin because she hasn’t gone nuclear on Stevens’ ass immediately upon announcement of the verdict, but you feel sorry for the Senator because he hasn’t figured out that constituent bribes are illegal?

    Palin’s the state governor and facing election for vice president a week from now; I’m just a private citizen who feels a little sorry for an old codger who hasn’t quite grasped that the game has changed.

    Your scenario only holds if he resigns or is expelled from the Senate. If he is defeated next week, the liberal assumes the office in January and stays for 6 years.

    Exactly. One presumes that he’ll be expelled from the Senate or pressured to resign. He’s a convicted felon. But voters could nonetheless vote for him, as they did for the late Mel Carnahan a few years back, with a replacement in mind.

  7. Billy says:

    But voters could nonetheless vote for him, as they did for the late Mel Carnahan a few years back, with a replacement in mind.

    I voted for Mel Carnahan. Ted Stevens is no Mel Carnahan.

  8. Billy says:

    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.

    Dear Lord – even reading her speech is annoying.

  9. Triumph says:

    One presumes that he’ll be expelled from the Senate or pressured to resign. But voters could nonetheless vote for him, as they did for the late Mel Carnahan a few years back, with a replacement in mind.

    He will certainly be pressured (but, hell, so was Gay Larry and that didn’t work out as planned).

    As far as the Senate expulsion: aren’t they in recess until after the election? And wouldn’t Palin have to get out front on this before Tuesday and announce who she would plan on appointing? That seems pretty unlikely–especially given her “statement” yesterday.

  10. Michael says:

    Palin could appoint a Republican to Stevens’ seat until 2010

    Are you sure on that? I seem to remember hearing that in Alaska the Governor can’t appoint replacements, there has to be a special election.

  11. Billy says:

    Are you sure on that? I seem to remember hearing that in Alaska the Governor can’t appoint replacements, there has to be a special election.

    The NYT agrees.

  12. Boyd says:

    Palin’s the state governor and facing election for vice president a week from now; I’m just a private citizen who feels a little sorry for an old codger who hasn’t quite grasped that the game has changed.

    You’re mixing the two together, James. I was pointing out your reaction to 1) Palin’s statement 2) Stevens’ conviction. You’re harder on Palin for her “tepid” response than you are on Stevens for committing seven felonies. That’s what makes it seem to me that your dislike of Palin has gone over the edge of rationality.

  13. Mithras says:

    Still, the man has just been convicted of seven felonies and she’s blaming the oil companies?!

    She winked when she said it.

  14. Bithead says:

    I think there’s some under-estimation of the balance act palin had to play here. She was pretty well involved, I gather in blowing the whistle of the guy initially, and there’s still a large split in the State level GOP over it.

  15. Anderson says:

    “Governor Palin, are you going to vote for Senator Stevens?”

    Or is that a tricky gotcha question?

  16. Alex Knapp says:

    Bithead,

    Palin didn’t blow the whistle on Stevens–she helped him get elected! And he, in turn, campaigned hard for her for the governor’s seat. She’s in a “difficult position” because she’s been tied to him for her state-level career.

    But that’s easily fixed by calling for her to resign.

  17. James Joyner says:

    You’re harder on Palin for her “tepid” response than you are on Stevens for committing seven felonies. That’s what makes it seem to me that your dislike of Palin has gone over the edge of rationality.

    Ah. No, not at all.

    I just take it as a given that Stevens’ career is finished; he’s therefore just some old coot in Alaska that I feel a little sorry for because this is a big fall after being a big shot for 60 years.

    Palin, meanwhile, is my party’s nominee for vice president and there’s a campaign on. I’m baffled that she isn’t further out front on this one given that the outcome was predictable.

  18. Bithead says:

    Palin didn’t blow the whistle on Stevens–she helped him get elected

    And are those two mutually exclisive, given the time frames involved?

  19. anjin-san says:

    She was pretty well involved, I gather in blowing the whistle of the guy initially,

    Documentation, Por Favor…

  20. James, is it possible that Governor Palin is referring to one oil services company that was bribing Senator Stevens, and not all oil companies? And it may be worth noting that it does take two to tango. Senator Stevens didn’t become corrupt in a vacuum. Her statement could easily be taken to mean that Senator Stevens isn’t the only person to run afoul of the law when dealing with this particular oil services company.

    You do seem to want to think the worst of her.

  21. tom p says:

    Missouri is the only state to ever elect a dead man to the Senate. I have always been rather proud of that fact.

    (MN and Wellstone do not quite count, as the state democratic party was actually able to nominate somebody in his place before the election)

    But could Alaska actually top us by electing a convicted Felon?

    GO TED!!

    It is moments like these that make me laugh.

  22. tom p says:

    You do seem to want to think the worst of her.

    Charles and others: I think all James is trying to say, is that this is a great chance for her to burnish her “anti-corruption” credentials. The same ones she rightly earned by taking on the state GOP, and used to spring board her way to the governorship of Alaska (Did I just pay her a compliment? This election has me going even loopier than I normally am)

    She got tossed a big fat hanging curve and instead of swinging for the fences, she bunted. That is not how you win an election, especially when you are down by 12 runs and it is late in the eighth inning.

  23. Exactly how many votes do you really think might have been swung no matter what Governor Palin said about Senator Stevens after his conviction?

    Just an aside, Mel Carnahan was losing and would have lost that election had his plane not crashed. A tragedy for him and his family. Disgraceful politics all around. Mrs. Carnahan was so far out of her depth in Washington it was quite an embarrassment to the state, but she was able to reliably vote as she was told. But paybacks are a bitch as Senator Ashcroft’s loss made it possible for him to become Attorney General, so remember to be careful for what you ask for.

  24. Grewgills says:

    Missouri is the only state to ever elect a dead man to the Senate.

    we elected a dead woman to the House in HI.

  25. Bithead says:

    Documentation, Por Favor…

    Nope. Mis-spoke on that one, the target being Frank Murkowski. My bad.
    \
    Still, in what I’ve found she can hardly be called a close associate with Stevens.

  26. tom p says:

    Mrs. Carnahan was so far out of her depth in Washington it was quite an embarrassment to the state, but she was able to reliably vote as she was told. But paybacks are a bitch as Senator Ashcroft’s loss made it possible for him to become Attorney General, so remember to be careful for what you ask for.

    Indeed, Charles. I was so disgusted with her I refused to vote one way or the other in ’02. And yes, the law of unintended consequences…