Well, kids, I had another movie poster ready to go, but how could I ignore what happened today?
(WASHINGTON) — Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens was convicted of seven corruption charges Monday in a trial that tainted the 40-year Senate career of Alaska’s political patriarch. The verdict, coming barely a week before Election Day, added further uncertainty to a closely watched Senate race. Democrats hope to seize the once reliably Republican seat as part of their bid for a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
Stevens, 84, was convicted of all the charges he faced of lying about free home renovations and other gifts from a wealthy oil contractor.
The senator showed no emotion as the jury foreman said “guilty” seven times.
Stevens faces up to five years in prison on each count when he is sentenced, but under federal guidelines he is likely to receive much less prison time, if any.
The monthlong trial revealed that employees for VECO Corp., an oil services company, transformed Stevens’ modest mountain cabin into a modern, two-story home with wraparound porches, a sauna and a wine cellar.
The Senate’s longest-serving Republican, Stevens said he had no idea he was getting freebies. He said he paid $160,000 for the project and believed that covered everything.
He had asked for an unusually speedy trial, hoping he’d be exonerated in time to return to Alaska and win re-election. He kept his campaign going and gave no indication that he had a contingency plan in case of conviction.
Despite being a convicted felon, he is not required to drop out of the race or resign from the Senate. If he wins re-election, he can continue to hold his seat because there is no rule barring felons from serving in Congress. The Senate could vote to expel him on a two-thirds vote.
Stevens’ conviction hinged on the testimony of Bill Allen, the senator’s longtime drinking and fishing buddy. Allen, the founder of VECO, testified that he never billed his friend for the work on the house and that Stevens knew he was getting a special deal.
As you may recall, I’ve been asking the McCain-Palin campaign since September 9 whether Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin were endorsing then-indicted Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska.
Palin’s statement: “It’s a sad day for Alaska, and a sad day for Senator Stevens and his family. The verdict shines a light though 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. And as governor of the state of Alaska, I’ll carefully monitor now the situation and I’ll take any appropriate action as needed. In the meantime I do ask that the people of Alaska 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 state of Alaska.”
So…we still don’t have an answer. And as far as I can tell, Stevens is still running for re-election.
It may be that Palin is trying to be compassionate. But is that the right political move for a self-styled maverick who takes on the old boys network?
Meanwhile, the editors of the conservative website RedState.com have endorsed not only Stevens’ Democratic rival [Mark Begich], but that of Rep. Don Young, D-Alaska.
Oopsie! Don Young is a Rethug, not a Dem. His opponent is Democrat, Ethan Berkowitz.