My colleagues and I attended the
arraignment of Alaska’s Republican Senator Ted
Stevens in a DC federal court this week. The courtroom was packed, so we
sat with the media and watched the proceedings on closed-circuit television.
Stevens, the longest serving
Republican in the U.S. Senate, was indicted for accepting hundreds of thousands
of dollars in gifts and lying about them on his Senate financial disclosure
forms. Stevens didn’t say anything at the arraignment and his extraordinary
request to get a trial before the general election was granted by the judge
handling his case. It is good to be the king – or senator!
I encourage you to review the
sordid details in the indictment here.
Stevens is accused of failing to report $250,000 of gifts he received from an
oil company and its owner.
If the charges are proven correct, Senator Stevens
deserves what he gets -- and more. Prosecutors charged Stevens with
lesser charges of making false statements rather than bribery/extortion because
I believe they have been hamstrung by recent court rulings that make it harder
to prosecute public officials (especially members of Congress) for
bribery. (Interestingly, the feds have finally seemed to understand that
elected officials who lie on their financial disclosure forms should be
prosecuted. They refused to do this to Hillary when we asked
them (she failed to disclose her multi-million dollar family foundation).
One wonders if Barack
Obama and the other senators who failed to report their sweetheart
mortgages properly will receive prosecutorial scrutiny.
Stevens ought to resign, but won't. These days, it seems
members of Congress have to be hauled off to jail before they relinquish their
office (see also Rep.
William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson).