Monday, October 27, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Ted Stevens found guilty

By Michael J.W. Stickings

UPDATED AND MOVED UP

Pardon my Schadenfreude, but... woo-hoo! Here's CNN:

A jury found U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska guilty Monday of all seven counts in his federal corruption trial.

The jury found Stevens guilty of "knowingly and willfully" scheming to conceal on Senate disclosure forms more than $250,000 in home renovations and other gifts from an Alaska-based oil industry contractor.

Stevens faces a maximum sentence of up to to 35 years in prison -- five years for each of the seven counts.

Legal experts note the judge has the discretion to give Stevens as little as no jail time and probation when he is sentenced.

I'd guess no jail time, but, given his advantaged age, it's probably enough that that he's been found guilty, that a jury of fellow citizens has deemed him corrupt, and that he get probation.

Otherwise, let's hope this puts his Democratic challenger, Mark Begich, over the top.

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UPDATE: Needless to say, this is the top story at Memeorandum now -- check it out. In particular, see The Hill, the Times, and the Politico.

According to MSNBC, Stevens will not be dropping out of his Senate race. And, of course, he claims he didn't do it: "I am innocent," he said in a statement. "This verdict is the result of the unconscionable manner in which the Justice Department lawyers conducted this trial. 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." (Yeah, damn that jury system.)

Of course, the Anchorage Daily News weighs in, too: "It is the highest-profile felony conviction in a sweeping four-year federal investigation into corruption in Alaska politics, and a rare conviction by a jury of a sitting U.S. senator."

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Palin's bet-hedging response: "This is a sad day for Alaska and a sad day for Senator Stevens and his family... 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."

Palin bemoaned "the corrupting influence of the big oil service company up there in Alaska that was allowed to control too much of our state." She also added that she's "confident that Senator Stevens from this point on will do the right thing for the people of Alaska," but it's not at all clear what she means by "the right thing." As in the past, she refused to say whether she'll be voting for Stevens.

Not to take away from what Stevens did, but Palin doesn't have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to corruption. She may spin herself as a reformer, but she's very much in the game, just on her own terms.

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