Senator Stevens guilty of all seven corruption counts

By Chris Rizo | Oct 27, 2008

Ted Stevens (R)

Sarah Palin (R)

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- A Washington jury on Monday found U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska guilty of all seven corruption counts he was charged with over gifts he accepted from an oil industry contractor but failed to report.

Jurors said Stevens, who is running for a seventh term, deliberately failed to disclose on mandatory Senate financial disclosure forms more than $250,000 in home renovations and other gifts from the oil company VECO and its chief executive officer, Bill Allen.

The jury of eight women and four men deliberated for five hours Monday before returning the guilty verdicts.

The verdicts stemmed from a four-year federal investigation and a three-week trial that featured 24 government witnesses and 28 defense witnesses.

U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan has delayed sentencing for the longtime Alaska senator, who was indicted by federal grand jury in July.

Despite his conviction, Stevens, 84, is not required to drop out of his Senate race or resign his seat.

If he wins his re-election race against Democratic Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, Stevens can continue to hold his seat because there is no rule barring convicted felons from serving in Congress. The Senate, however, could vote to expel Stevens on a two-thirds vote.

Stevens is the first sitting U.S. senator convicted of a felony since 1981, when Sen. Harrison Williams Jr, D-N.J., was convicted on bribery and conspiracy charges.

Stevens is the longest serving Republican senator in U.S. history. He was appointed to the Senate in 1968, won a special election to the seat two years later, and has been re-elected since.

Amid the federal investigation, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a fellow Republican, urged Stevens to tell Alaskans why he was the target of a federal corruption investigation.

Palin, who is now the Republican vice presidential nominee, said at the time that among her concerns is the perception that Alaska is a place where legislators may be bought.

In a statement Monday Palin said she is "confident" Stevens will make the right choice about his political future.

"This is a sad day for Alaska and for Senator Stevens and his family. 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," she said. "That control was part of the culture of corruption I was elected to fight. And that fight must always move forward regardless of party or seniority or even past service."

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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