This is a sad but serious day. Sen. Stevens was found guilty by a jury of his peers, and now must face the consequences of those actions. As a result of his conviction, Sen. Stevens will be held accountable so the public trust can be restored.
,Alaska’s top election official, Gail Fenumiai, e-mailed Al Kamen at the Washington Post and said that as of now, Stevens is still able to vote on Nov. 4: “The Department of Law has determined that until a final judgment and sentence has been entered by the federal court in his case, Senator Stevens is eligible to vote in the November 4 General Election.”
Hotline reports that Sarah Palin issued a statement about the guilty decision in the Ted Stevens corruption case:
Thanks for your patience there. 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.
CNN reports, “Palin did not respond when asked if she will vote for Sen. Stevens and promptly boarded the campaign plane.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) reacts:
This verdict is a personal tragedy for our colleague Ted Stevens, but it is an important reminder that no man is above the law. Senator Stevens must now respect the outcome of the judicial process and the dignity of the United States Senate.
Today, a federal jury found Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) guilty on all seven counts of making false statements on his financial disclosure regarding “$250,000 in home renovations and other gifts he received from an oil contractor.” According to the AP, Stevens “faces up to five years in prison on each count, but under federal sentencing guidelines, he would likely receive much less prison time, if any.” Watch MSNBC’s report:
UPDATE: Stevens is currently locked in a tough re-election race against Democrat Mark Begich, and the Hill observers that the verdict could “spell the end of a 40-year…career for a man” who is currently the Senate’s longest-serving Republican.
UPDATE III: At a July press conference in Anchorage, Palin and Stevens couldn’t stop lavishing praise on one another. Palin said that she had “great respect for the senator. He needs to be heard across America. His voice, his experience, his passion, needs to be heard across America.” Watch it:
During the trial of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) today, prosecutors played tape of secretly recorded conversations between Stevens and former VECO chief Bill Allen, who has already been convicted of bribery. In the 2006 conversation, Stevens told Allen he couldn’t “think of a thing of anything we’ve done that wrong”:
The worst that could happen, Stevens told Allen, was that they would have to pay thousands of dollars in legal bills to get themselves out of hot water.
“They’re not going to shoot us, it’s not Iraq,” Stevens said, although he also expressed some concern about having to serve time in jail. “I hope to Christ it never gets to that, but I don’t think it will,” Stevens said.
This morning on Fox News Sunday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) cited Gov. Sarah Palin’s (R-AK) 2007 cancellation of the so-called “Bridge to Nowhere” as one reason he selected her as his running mate. McCain repeated the increasinglycommon right-wing myth that Palin opposed the $400 million dollar project. Host Chris Wallace did not challenge McCain’s characterization.
On ABC’s This Week, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) similarly argued that Palin is a reformer because she supposedly said, “I’m not going to build a Bridge to Nowhere.” This Week host George Stephanopoulos pointed out that Graham’s claim is false:
GRAHAM: To go in her state and say ‘I’m not going to build a bridge to nowhere’ — a $400 – $400 million appropriation that was passed by brute force in the Congress by two senior members of the congressional delegation, very powerful figures in Washington. And for her to say, ‘We’re not going to do this because its not necessary and its wasteful,’ to take on your own Republican party –
STEPHANOPOULOS: But Senator, she turned against that, only she campaigned for it in her 2006 race, and turned against it in 2007 only after it became a national joke.
Watch a compilation:
When she first introduced herself as McCain’s running mate, Palin also lied about her support for the project. But as Stephanopoulos notes,the claim made by McCain and Graham that Palin opposed the Bridge to Nowhere is patently false.
In reality, Palin strongly supported the bridge project. During her 2006 run for governor, the Anchorage Daily News interviewed Palin. At the time, federal funding for the bridge had been stripped by Congress. The paper asked if she was in favor of continuing state funding for the project. “Yes,” she responded, noting specifically her desire to renew congressional support:
Yes. I would like to see Alaska’s infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now — while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist.
When Palin finally canceled the project in 2007, she expressed regret that Congress had not been more forthcoming with federal funding. Moreover, as recently as March 2008, her administration was publicly defending its frequent requests for the same kind of earmark spending that McCain himself often rails against.
Media Matters notes that in a 2006 gubernatorial debate, Palin responded to a question about the Bridge to Nowhere saying, “I do support the infrastructure projects that are on tap here in the state of Alaska that our congressional delegations worked hard for.”
During the unveiling of his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) tried to cast her as a “reformer” and “fiscal conservative.” She boldly claimed that with regard to Sen. Ted Stevens’s (R-AK) infamous “Bridge to Nowhere,” she told Congress, “Thanks, but no thanks“:
I championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. In fact, I told Congress — I told Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ on that bridge to nowhere. If our state wanted a bridge, I said we’d build it ourselves.
It appears, however, that Palin is lying. As Bradford Plumer first noted, the Anchorage Daily News interviewed Palin during her 2006 campaign for governor. At the time, federal funding for the bridge had been stripped by Congress. They asked if she was in favor of continuing state funding for the project. “Yes,” she responded, noting specifically her desire to renew Congressional support:
Yes. I would like to see Alaska’s infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now–while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist.
That assistance never materialized. When she finally canceled the $400 million project, Palin lamented the fact that Congress was not more forthcoming with federal funding. She said in a statement at the time:
Despite the work of our congressional delegation, we are about $329 million short of full funding for the bridge project, and it’s clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island.
Palin’s desire to have federal funding directed toward pet projects in Alaska, however, did not diminish. As recently as March 2008 — around the time she first met McCain — her special counsel, John Katz, wrote in the Juneau Empire that despite recognizing increased scrutiny of such spending, Palin was not “not abandoning earmarks altogether.” While McCain expressed high-profiledisdainforearmarks, the Palin administration held that:
[E]armarks are not bad in themselves. In fact, they represent a legitimate exercise of Congress’ constitutional power to amend the budget proposed by the president.
Newsweek reports that in a conversation “secretly tape-recorded by the FBI on June 25, 2006,” Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) “discussed ways to get a pipeline bill through the Alaska Legislature with Bill Allen, an oil-services executive accused of providing the senator with about $250,000 in undisclosed financial benefits.” Stevens promised Allen, “I’m gonna try to see if I can get some bigwigs from back here and say, ‘Look … you gotta get this done’.” Two days later, Vice President Cheney undertook the unusual move of writing a letter to the Alaska Legislature urging members to “promptly enact” a bill to build the pipeline.
TPMMuckraker points out that yesterday in a debate, primary challenger Vic Vickers asked Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) about the federal indictment he is facing on seven criminal counts. Stevens angrily responded that his Alaskan constituents don’t care about the investigation:
As I’ve traveled around Alaska, you know, I haven’t had that question asked to me by anyone but a newsperson. And now you join that rank. Uh, the Alaskans I’ve talked to said “Ted, we believe in ya’,” “Ted, I’m gonna give ya’ a prayer,” “Ted, we’ll see you through this,” uh, “We know, we know (emphasis) that you’re innocent ’cause you said you’re innocent.”
However, earlier this week, Alaskans calling into Alaska Talk Radio repeatedly asked Stevens about the corruption charges. He angrily refused to say whether he would accept a presidential pardon or why he won’t disclose the source of his legal fees, and at one point, seemed to challenge a caller to come and fight him. Listen here to highlights:
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan today ruled that Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) will stand trial on seven felony counts in the nation’s capital, rejecting his request to move the affair to Alaska. Jury selection for the four-week trial is set to begin on Sept. 22. Federal prosecutors argued that “holding the trial in a place where Stevens is already campaigning for reelection could taint the home state jury pool.” Indeed, Stevens’s lawyers said that the senator wanted to “campaign in the evenings and on weekends during the trial.”