Alaska Senator Ted Stevens has apparently lost his re-election bid! Thank You Santa!
Stevens was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 1968. He has been re-elected six times! Senator Stevens is the senior member of Alaska’s congressional delegation and the senior Republican in the U.S. Senate. He’s also the longest-serving Senator in the history of the Republican Party. (His 40-year tenure dates back to Lyndon Johnson’s administration!)
But today, (November 19/2008) on his 85th birthday, after a long vote count, seems Anchorage Mayor, Democrat Mark Begich, has narrowly won that Alaska Senate race. There are still some 25-hundred overseas ballots left to count. And a recount is possible. But as of this moment, it’s looking like Stevens may NOT get the birthday present that he was hoping for!
Stevens was embroiled in a home renovation scandal that led to federal corruption charges (for violating provisions of the Ethics in Government Act). The government says Stevens did not report about a quarter-million-dollars in gifts and services, including home renovations. The funds in question came from an Alaskan oil-field service company (VECO Corporation), and it’s CEO.
Stevens pleaded not guilty. His trial began (in Washington, DC) in September, just weeks before the November general election. One week before the election, Stevens was found guilty on all seven counts, yet he insisted on running for re-election.
Alaska’s republicans dutifully and hypocritically went ahead and voted for a convicted felon to represent them in Washington, and fight for change! These people beat their breast with their left hand and stridently claimed that Obama was not fit to be president. Yet they took their right hand and voted for a convicted felon…that they saw as fit to be their senator!
Which takes us to Sarah Palin…
Conventional wisdom said that if Stevens won, republicans would oust him. There would be a special election to fill the seat, Sarah Palin would run, possibly win and head to Washington, hockey puck in hand. In elitist DC, she’d immediately don some lipstick and designer duds and send aspiring 2012 republican presidential wannabes reaching for the Maalox!! Some of them must be secretly relieved that Begich won!
Remember how Palin attacked Obama for securing earmark dollars for his state. Well Ted Stevens was an Earmark King. He brought home cartons of bacon, plus some ribs and tenderloin, too!
Seems Stevens (lovingly referred to in Alaska as: “Uncle Ted”) secured billions for Alaska over the years (more than 9-billion-dollars in 2006 alone!) And then there’s that famous bridge to nowhere. Stevens helped secure the 200 million for that project, too.
His sentencing hearing is scheduled for February 25. Stevens faces a maximum penalty of five years per charge…unless President Bush steps in and either pardons him or commutes his sentence.
While we wait to see what the final count will be, The Anchorage Daily News is reporting that:
The Chairman of Alaska’s Republican Party is whining that Stevens lost his seat because of: the timing of the trial. He says Stevens had little time to campaign! Convicted on seven counts of corruption and their only concern: Stevens did not have time to campaign! Campaign for what? How about apologize to his constituents…? He has a lot of time for that!
The paper says Stevens claims he was railroaded. He’s alleging prosecutorial misconduct so gross that legal scholars would study the case for years to come. Stevens denies wrongdoing and is appealing the verdict. According to the Anchorage Daily News, after the jury’s decision, Stevens asserted he had not been convicted, relying on a legal definition that defied common usage of the term.
No, Mr. Stevens you have NOT been convicted. And neither has former Ohio Governor Bob Taft. The republican pled no contest and was “convicted” on four misdemeanor ethics violations in 2005. Including failure to disclose 6-thousand-dollars in undisclosed gifts, plus golf outings paid for by lobbyists.
Pennsylvania democrat Frank LaGrotta was NOT convicted, either. He was just inexplicably sentenced to six months house arrest, probation and fines in 2007. The former State Representative pled guilty to two counts of corruption for giving away thousands of tax dollars to family members through ghost employment.
Two more politicians who were unfairly bamboozled by gross prosecutorial misconduct.