Senator Ted Stevens (R. Alaska) appears to have avoided an expulsion vote in the Senate on Thursday by losing his seat in Alaska on Wednesday. The convicted felon had vowed to continue in office while challenging his federal conviction. The election, however, showed that roughly half of Alaskan remains pro-family and pro-felon.
As one of Stevens’ most vocal critics through the years, I remain astonished by the appeal of corrupt politicians in Alaska. Stevens was ultimately nailed on relatively small stuff in comparison to his long and controversial dealings with lobbyists and business interests. Obviously, other states like Louisiana’s support of William Jefferson have shown a similar willingness to forgive corruption in their representatives.
He will now face sentencing in Washington and the question of whether he will remain free pending appeal. He will have a tough time on appeal. This is a jury decision that comes down to credibility and veracity in the eyes of the jury. They simply rejected Stevens’ spin on these gifts. It is not the type of thing that appellate courts normally reverse.
Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich will now be the new senator — though by only 3,724 votes. Nevertheless, with only about 2,500 overseas ballots left to be counted, Stevens cannot make up the difference.
Stevens has stated that “I wouldn’t wish what I’m going through on anyone, my worst enemy. I haven’t had a night’s sleep for almost four months.” For many who spent years demanding action against Stevens’ corrupt deals, it is a statement that hardly produces sympathy. Stevens publicly prided himself on destroying people who questioned him or failed to fall to his feet.
His personality came through on the stand. Juror Colleen Walsh said: “Throughout the case, he was kinda quiet and you know, kinda grandfatherly, but when he was up on stage, he was like a lion, and he was kind of demeaning to the lawyer, so it didn’t help his case that much.” The jurors said that the evidence was in their view overwhelming in support of conviction on the seven counts.
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