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Corruption conviction doesn’t daunt Sen. Ted Stevens October 28, 2008

Posted by trouble97018 in News, Politics, Repiglicans.
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Courtesy of The Los Angeles Times

 

By Richard B. Schmitt
October 28, 2008
Reporting from Washington — In a stunning verdict that imperils the tenure of the Senate’s longest-serving Republican, a federal jury Monday found Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska guilty of concealing tens of thousands of dollars in gifts and improvements to his home.

Stevens, 84, reacted pugnaciously, attacking the Justice Department and vowing to continue campaigning for reelection to his seventh term next Tuesday.

“I am obviously disappointed in the verdict but not surprised given the repeated instances of prosecutorial misconduct in this case,” he said in a prepared statement. “I will fight this unjust verdict with every ounce of energy I have.” He asked Alaskans and his Senate colleagues to “stand with me as I pursue my rights.”

Stevens has managed to remain neck and neck with Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich since the trial began, despite being unable to campaign in person. But political analysts have said from the beginning that all bets would be off were Stevens to be convicted.

The conviction boosts Democrats’ hopes of reaching a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Democrats control the Senate 51 to 49 with the help of two independents but need 60 seats to overcome Republican-led filibusters that have stymied Democratic initiatives.

Senate rules do not bar convicted felons from serving, and it would take a two-thirds vote to expel Stevens if he were reelected. The chamber has not expelled anyone in more than a century. If Stevens is forced to step down, a special election would be held to determine his replacement.

Some Republicans already appeared to discount the chances that he would be returning to Washington.

“Ted Stevens served his constituents for over 40 years, and I am disappointed to see his career end in disgrace,” said Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, who heads the Senate Republicans’ campaign committee. “Sen. Stevens had his day in court and the jury found he violated the public’s trust — as a result he is properly being held accountable. This is a reminder that no one is above the law.”

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, also appeared to distance herself from her home-state lawmaker, using the conviction as an opportunity to trumpet her own anti-corruption credentials.

Palin, who has clashed with Washington’s Republican congressional delegation in the past, said in a statement that the verdict “shines a light on the corrupting influence of the big oil service company that was allowed to control too much of our state. It was part of the culture of corruption that I was elected to fight. And that fight must always move forward, regardless of party or seniority or even past service.”

Palin concluded: “I’m confident Sen. Stevens will do what’s right for the people of Alaska.”

Article continues @ http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/front/la-na-stevens28-2008oct28,0,5888165,full.story
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