If at First You Don’t Succeed…

6 12 2008

This reminds me of that old piece of advice, “Ask for everything. The worst they can say is ‘No.'”

Ted Stevens’ lawyers have asked Judge Emmett Sullivan to overturn the jury’s verdict. That’s right, just toss the verdict out and rule for an acquittal.

And if he won’t do that, then they’ll settle for a new trial. In Alaska.

And if he won’t do that, then they’ll settle for a new trial.

AND they want 6 of the 7 felony counts dismissed because they are the same as the first felony count.

They also asked the judge to allow them to file some exhibits in support of their motions under seal because the exhibits refer to personal information about jurors and to the ongoing investigation by the government into political corruption in Alaska.

This might have something to do with Juror #9 who had “violent outbursts” during the deliberations, and whom all the other jurors wanted off the island. Or, it could have to do with Juror #4 who lied about her own father’s death, and skipped town to watch a horse race. Or, it could have to do with our favorite Juror #11 who has been talking to the press and keeping a blog that describes some interesting goings-on behind the scenes. And now, it appears that the defense has been doing some investigative work that reveals what they believe to be jurors who lied on their forms and failed to disclose relationships with the criminal justice system that could have made them prejudicial against Stevens, and politicians in general.

AND they say that Bill Allen, former CEO of Veco Corp, and key witness for the prosecution lied when he said that the friend of Stevens who was overseeing the renovation said, “Don’t worry about getting a bill. Ted’s just covering his ass.”

Under an earlier schedule set by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, the government has until Jan. 9 to respond to the defense’s post-trial motions. A hearing is set for Feb. 25.

In asking for a new trial, the defense lawyers said Stevens’ trial was fatally flawed with false evidence presented by the government, improper hearsay evidence from a witness who was the “linchpin” of the government’s case, and by jurors who lied to the court and were prejudiced from the start against politicians.

Such post-trial motions are common in criminal trials but rarely succeed before the trial judge, who has ruled upon most if not all of the arguments before. However, they set out the basis for a likely appeal, and could also be used by advocates seeking a presidential pardon for Stevens to assert he was tried unfairly.

Like it or not, the Stevens trial continues. Trialophiles will want to read the entire article in todays Anchorage Daily News.





Ted Stevens Corruption Timeline!

28 11 2008

Every once in a while, going through my usual rounds online, I come across an unexpected jewel.  This one came from TPM Muckraker in the form of a wonderfully organized and aesthetically pleasing  Ted Stevens Corruption timeline!

It’s a true tale of descent from Last Frontier Icon, to really old semi-pathetic felon. 

The chronology begins with the fateful line, “Sen. Ted Stevens mentions to his friend, VECO CEO Bill Allen, that his daughter could use a new car,” and it’s all down hill from there.

In reading through the chain of events, there were some details I had forgotten, like this marvelous quote from Stevens at the time of his indictment:

“This is an indictment for failure to disclose gifts that are controversial in terms of whether they were or were not gifts. It’s not bribery; it’s not some corruption; it’s not some extreme felony.”

I don’t know why I always get such a kick out of that quote.  No, he didn’t commit murder, or knock over a bank, or kidnap someone for ransom. And that makes us glad.  But by implication, we’re supposed to feel good that it’s just a garden variety felony, a minor felony, a felony hardly worth mentioning.  Whew!  Dodged a bullet, there.  I was worried for a minute. 

The timeline ends on November 20, 2008 when Stevens makes his last appearance on the Senate floor.  I’m hoping the timeline will continue with updates, because Stevens may be out, but the cadaveric spasms of his long career in Alaska politics continue.

David Anderson, the witness who said he lied under oath regarding an immunity deal, has also stated that the prosecution showed him documents before the trial that he wasn’t legally supposed to see.  Judge Emmett Sullivan, who undoubtedly had been hoping he’d seen the last of this trial has scheduled a hearing for Monday to determine whether Stevens’ attorneys can question Anderson, Allen’s nephew and a welder who worked on Stevens’ renovations….the one’s he ‘forgot’ to disclose on his financial disclosure forms.

The circumstances surrounding this sudden and startling confession of perjury from the penitent welder are still unclear.  Kind of like when you question the “Magic 8 Ball” and it tells you, “Reply hazy….try again later.”

We’ll try again on Monday.





The Alaskan White Knights are Waffling, and We Have Homework to Do.

25 11 2008

waffle

I have a couple questions.

What do you do when your Governor is accountable to your Attorney General, and your Attorney General is accountable to your Governor, and neither one of them will either acknowledge or administer consequences for bad behavior.  It’s like a kid whose Mom says, “Go ask Dad,” and whose Dad says, “Go ask Mom.”  Neither one of them wants to be accountable, and neither one of them has any  intention of answering the question.  They are hoping the kid will go away.

Now I have another question.

What do you do when the Legislature, the voice of the people who hired the Governor, also refuses to administer consequences for bad behavior, and simply stands mute?  And what do you do when that silence then turns into statements that run not only counter to the expectation of the people, but to their job description, and the bounds of ethics and the law? 

What do you do when your “voice” no longer speaks for you?

I have a small understanding about how people with Tourette syndrome, or muscular spasms must feel.   It must feel like a betrayal of mind and body when the things that are meant, on the most basic level, to represent you  (your voice, and your actions) are hijacked by unknown forces, leaving you making declarations and gestures that have no connection with your true intent. 

When the Alaska Legislature starts talking about how we’re all weary of Troopergate, and Governor Palin, Attorney General Talis Colberg, and those who ignored legislative subpoenas should just be able to continue without facing any consequences for violating the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act, and the law,  I feel like shouting, “This is not me!  I’m not saying this!  I’m not doing this!”

I have often compared the Democrats of the Legislature to white knights. I’ve been blown away at times by their bravery, their conviction, and the fact that they put themselves out on a limb to do the right thing. And I’ve also given a pat on the back to Republicans who have planted themselves on the right side of the fence despite their party affiliation. In some ways the Repulicans had the harder job. When the bipartisan Legislative Council voted to make public the Troopergate report whose first finding was that Sarah Palin abused her power and violated the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act, I was amazed. I began to…dare I say it aloud….have faith in my Legislature.  All of them.

Now, after the election, as Sarah Palin gets back to the business of the state (when she’s in town), I am beginning to lose that faith.  The white knights are starting to pull their punches, the horses are rearing like they’ve seen a snake, and the villagers are getting a horrible sinking feeling. We are wondering what happened to them? We wonder if they are breaking their vows to us, and justifying the betrayal in the name of “moving forward and working together on the issues that really matter.”

Call me crazy, but I think ethics really matters.   If you polled voters and asked if they’d rather have an ethical politician or an unethical one, you’d get the obvious answer. And if you broke down the results of this poll by party affiliation, I don’t think you’d find much difference.  Everyone wants ethical politicians. So, why, after a candidate has been elected, would anyone want to stop a process that was designed to find out if that politician is corrupt?  Why would you budget $100,000 for an investigation to find out whether a politician violated the ethics act if you were going to ignore the finding?  And why, if the findings showed that the politician had indeed violated the ethics act, would you decide to give them a free pass?  And why, if witnesses, and perhaps the head of the Department of Law violated…..the LAW, would you be just fine with that?

For right now, I’m going to give our White Knights on both sides of the aisle the benefit of the doubt.  I, on behalf of the villagers, am going to accept some responsibility for their waffling.   Perhaps we just haven’t been doing a good enough job of letting them know we’re here, and that we’re going to back them up.  Maybe they really think people don’t care.  Perhaps they feel like they’re headed off to battle with no ammunition.  That has to be scary.

So here’s your homework Mudflatters…  As a Thanksgiving present to the Alaska State Legislature, I want you to give them some ammunition.  Every email you send, every letter you write, every phone call you make is an arrow in their quiver.  Phone calls count as two arrows…maybe even three.

I want our white knights to be armed to the teeth.  I want them to ride into battle feeling invincible.  I don’t want them to feel like they were abandoned by the village.  Let’s hang a garland of flowers around their necks, and sent them off with a full quiver of public outrage.

I’m not willing to throw them under the horse just yet.

For emails to all Alaska State Legislators – Click HERE – then cut & paste them all into your email address bar.

For phone numbers of the Alaska State Legislators – Click HERE

Giddyup!





Alaska Needs Your Help! In Which I Explain That the Creature from the Black Lagoon is a Good Guy.

24 11 2008

creature-from-the-black-lagoon

I’ve been talking for weeks now about goings on beneath the surface of Alaskan politics. I’ve fielded dozens of inquiries asking, “What can we do to help?” I’ve answered, “Don’t worry. News is coming. Things are happening. Just be patient.”

I’ve said it’s like bubbles in a pond that start small, and get larger, and clue you in that there’s something down there…and the bigger they get, the sooner you know it’s coming.

Now I want you to imagine a rowboat containing all those Alaskan politicians that don’t want to be held accountable for their actions, all those that have been stonewalling, and twisting the truth, and doing everything possible to stay comfortable right where they are. The boat is large, and the crew is pleased with themselves. They sit under parasols and straw hats, dining on little sandwiches without crusts spread with lies, and tiny cakes glazed with croneyism.

“Do you guys hear anything?….Sounds like bubbles.” says communications director A, with a mouthful of sandwich.

“I don’t hear anything. Can you pour me a glass of lemonade? Ooo…And take my picture!” says politician B, smiling.

“Yeah, I hear it. It definitely sounds like bubbles to me.” says Politician B’s husband.

“What’s that?” (shrieks spokeswoman C, peering over the side of the rowboat at the large growing circle of bubbles)

“Get away from the edge!” bellows Legislator D.

(The occupants all scoot over to the far side of the boat. It lists precariously from the sudden shift in weight distribution, and almost starts to take on water. All of a sudden, a large webbed hand emerges from the bubbles, grabs the rail, and pulls down hard. The boat is now upright again, and the picnickers gape in horror as they realize the boat is about to be boarded. Another webbed hand grabs the rail, and the creature, fueled by the moral outrage of the citizenry pulls its massive body out of the water with a terrible cry. It’s……

Alaskans for Truth! Hooray! (The creature places its webbed hand on its leathery abdomen, extends its leg backward, and makes a sweeping bow. Distant applause is heard over the water.)

The boaters realize with growing dismay that the crowd that has gathered on the shore has not come to help them fight off the beast. They are actually cheering for the creature who has boarded the boat! What can this mean?! Why do they hate us?! Quick, offer this thing a sandwiche or something!

But neither the creature, nor the townsfolk on the shore will be deterred. The creature has made itself quite comfortable on the boat, and is now sitting, and has actually begun to row the boat ashore (Hallelujah!) with the intent of delivering the trembling crew right into the middle of the mob of agitated townsfolk….

It’s amazing what can be brought to life with some good old fashioned community organizing. What all this means is that Alaskans for Truth is now an official Political Action Committee, registered with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. And they have issued a call to action.

Rather than to try to figure out how to get our creature to pull something out of his non-existant pocket, and read an eloquent call to action, I’ll just give you a link to the Alaskans for Truth website, which spells it all out. What do they want?

  1. Censure of the Governor for violating the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act.
  2. Penalties for the state employees and Todd Palin who ignored subpoenas.
  3. Hold hearings on whether Governor Palin and her husband committed perjury in their sworn statement to Timothy Petumenos.
  4. An independent investigation into Attorney General Talis Colberg’s alleged witness tampering in the Troopergate investigation.

How is this going to happen? In two ways.

First, the call to action involves emailing the Alaska State Legislature and letting them know in no uncertain terms that these things still matter. A governor who is in violation of a state ethics act matters. An Attorney General who tells state employees to ignore legislative subpoenas matters. A Vice Presidential candidate and her husband who may have committed perjury matters. They are trying to tell us that these things don’t matter. But, they do.

And don’t for a minute think, dear Mudflatter, that what you do won’t have an effect. Do you remember when we were all biting our nails, wondering if the Legislative Council would release the Troopergate Report? It was touch and go. That report almost didn’t get released. I was there biting my nails in person, when they voted to release it. And one of the Legislators said, “Maybe I’ll be able to get through my inbox again…….”

That means you mattered. And you can matter again. Alaska is small, and every voice that speaks up may as well be using a megaphone. Nobody gets lost in the shuffle. Everyone is heard.

And don’t worry if you are not from Alaska. Because when Sarah Palin was foisted upon you as a Vice Presidential candidate, and when she was made an international celebrity, and when 77% of Republicans want to see her on the national political stage, this matters to you too. All you need to do is explain that, in case they don’t get it.

And the second way to help, is by donating. Alaskans for Truth wants to get their message out, and that means funds are necessary. The goal is to take out ads in the Anchorage Daily News, The Anchorage Press, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, The Juneau Empire, The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, The Tundra Drums…you name it. You’ll see the big yellow DONATE button on the website.

And here again, your voice matters. Alaska is one of the cheapest media markets in the country. Don’t think that a donation of $5 or $10 won’t matter. Everything will.

I once compared Alaska Bloggers, and citizens on both sides of the aisle who wanted the truth to get out to “Whos”, from the Dr. Seuss book Horton Hears a Who. Those little Whos, living on a dust speck, had to raise their collective voices to be heard by the outside world, and save themselves from doom. We in Alaska have been doing our best since August 29th to tell you our story, and to make sure that the rest of the country learned the truth. Just like the Whos, we have been yelling “We are here! We are here! We are here!” Do you hear us?

If so, then climb on board the rowboat, go to Alaskans for Truth, and start emailing and donating. The time has come to hold Alaska’s leaders accountable. The time for action is now.





Ted Stevens Prosecution Witness Says He Lied. And Wait…There’s More!

21 11 2008

chart2

Three days after Mark Begich was declared the winner in Alaska’s Senate race of the century, and the day after Ted Stevens yielded the floor of the Senate for the last time, a chief witness for the prosecution in his recent trial came forward with some more than interesting statements.

David Anderson, a witness who testified against Ted Stevens has said in a letter to the Judge Emmett Sullivan that his claims on the stand that he never had an immunity deal with the prosecution were false.  Not only that, Anderson said that the prosecutors coached him and “instructed me on how to sugar coat (the immunity deal) and get it swept under the rug during the trial.”  He also claims that all members of his family and friends, including former State Senator Jerry Ward  would be immune from federal investigation as a result of his agreement.

Ward appears to have been the beneficiary of an illegal campaign contribution by private prison advocate Bill Weimar, who was sentenced to six months in prison this week on a guilty plea to making the payment. Ward has not been charged. The recipient of Weimar’s illegal $20,000 payment was identified in charging documents only as “Candidate A,” but the description matched Ward.

Today, defense attorneys filed the letter from Anderson, a welder who worked on the extensive renovations on the Stevens home that totalled almost $250,000, and which Stevens did not disclose on his Senate Disclosure Forms, leading to seven felony convictions, and his defeat in the general election.

There are only so many times you can say, “You can’t make this stuff up” in one post, so I’m going to save it for the end.  Because there’s more to come.  Really.

In addition to the above, Anderson goes on to talk about being coached, and “groomed” for the trial, and being reminded of the events that happened.  He was shown pictures of the home, paper records, and other materials that he states he had forgotten in the years since the work was done.

In the letter, he states:

Without the preparation from the prosecution and the reminders from them about my activities and the agreement I had with them about my family and myself I would not have given the same testimony.  Without a shadow of doubt I believe this trial would have gone much differently.

Wow.  A belated birthday present for Ted Stevens?  But wait, there’s more.

Possibly the most bizarre allegation in Anderson’s letter is the claim that Bill Allen, (chairman of the oil services company Veco, who was responsible for the home renovations that Stevens was found guilty of not declaring) and his son Mark Allen had taken out a contract on Anderson to have him murdered.  Anderson is Bill Allen’s nephew.  Think I’m ready to say “You can’t make this stuff up?” yet?  Nope.

Stevens’ attorneys demanded a hearing be held to look into the matter. In a court filing Friday, they said the Anderson letter, dated Nov. 15, was new evidence of government misconduct in the case. They’ve already said they planned to seek a new trial or to overturn Stevens’ conviction on Oct. 27 of lying on Senate disclosure forms.

Government prosecutors responded Friday that Anderson’s letter, “simply put,” is untrue. They said that defense lawyers had ample opportunity to question Anderson about the March affidavit when he was on the witness stand, but chose not to.

In the affidavit, the main subject of Anderson’s Nov. 15 letter, Anderson said he agreed to cooperate with the government on condition that prosecutor grant immunity to Ward and his wife Margaret, Ward’s three daughters and their husbands, Anderson’s mother and son, and several others who couldn’t be identified. Anderson lives with one of Ward’s daughters, Kirsten Deacon. She was once Bill Allen’s girlfriend and that fact is the cause of much of the friction between uncle and nephew, Anderson has said.

OK.  Now I’m ready.  You can’t make this stuff up.





Alaska’s Senate Race – The Morning After

19 11 2008

Alaska has a Blue Senator. Mark Begich has won the election.

So where do we stand, and what does this mean?

Mark Begich – It means that Mayor Senator Begich gets to pack his bags and head to Washington DC, with his wife and son, to start giving progressive Alaskans and centrists, and people who don’t want a convicted felon representing them in our nation’s capitol, a voice. If he’s wise, and smart, he will take the Ted Stevens debacle as a cautionary tale. If he plays his cards right, he could be there for a long long time, but the Republican party will have him in their sights, and be watching for every little slip-up.

If the Democrats in the Senate are wise and smart, they’ll be really nice to Senator Begich and give him a couple nice feathers in his cap to wear home to Alaska. They know the kind of bombastic, blow hards Alaska is capable of sending to the capitol, and they probably don’t want it to happen again. And they sure don’t want Sarah Palin gunning for an open senate seat in 6 years. Mark Begich will be like salve on a wound for many who have had to endure Ted Stevens for decades.

Who will fill Mayor Begich’s seat after he leaves? Anchorage Assembly Chair Matt Claman. Matt just took over the chairmanship of the Assembly when a surprise progressive majority took over the paralyzingly conservative Anchorage Assembly that had previously been populated by junior versions of the aforementioned bombastic, blow hards. When the Assembly shifted to the left, Claman was chosen. I know Matt Claman and he’s a good guy. He lacks the extroversion and charisma of Begich, but his principles are sound, and he’s a concensus builder, and a rational thinker. He’ll probably do a pretty good job. He’ll be there until April, when the mayoral elections happen. He may decide to run for the position officially at that time. There are several others who have thrown their hat in the ring too. And this may cause some interesting wrangling, since one of those candidates is Assembly Vice Chair Sheila Selkregg. Today’s Anchorage Daily News has an interesting article on these behind the scenes goings on.

Sarah Palin – Well, God sent a message to Sarah. She said if God opened a door, even a crack, she’d “plow through it”. But tonight, when Begich won a clear victory, and the four decade era of Ted Stevens ended, the door firmly shut tight. She will undoubtedly be looking for another door. The three that may open up next are:

  • The Don Young Door – Congressman Don Young will be up for re-election in 2010, but may be out before then. He’s already spend a whopping 1.2 million dollars on legal fees in anticipation of his own coming indictment. Alaskans have been waiting for that shoe to drop for a while now….and it’s coming. It’s just a question of when. Look for headlines coming soon to a paper near you, now that Alaska politics has wormed its way into the national consciousness. But even if Young survives this, his 19th term in Congress, I don’t think Sarah Palin is gunning for his job. I just don’t think Congress is her style.
  • The Lisa Murkowski Door – Now we’re talking. Sarah unseated Lisa’s father Frank Murkowski when she became governor in 2006. This would be the second Murkowski trophy head on her wall. Murkowski hasn’t done a bad job in most Republican’s minds, but she hasn’t knocked their socks off either. It’s not a sure thing by any means that she’d be able to hold her seat against Palin. And the Senate, as we have just witnessed, can be an effective stepping stone to the Presidency, which is what Palin is gunning for in the long run. That’s the door she thinks God will open for her – the big fat door to the Oval Office. She’s “wired for the mission” and would be ready to run in 2012, or 2016.
  • The Direct Door to the Presidency – If Palin can hold on to office for another term, she may be banking on her national celebrity, and name recognition, and her Christian conservative buddies in high places to take her from the governorship to Pennsylvania Avenue…or so she hopes. She’s up for re-election in 2010. And who knows…she may feel fully qualified by that point to throw her hat in the ring anyway.

And what about Ted Stevens, and his suddenly awkward and very visible namesake – The Ted Stevens International Airport. Before we break out the chisels and hammers, the Anchorage Assembly and the Public Facilities Advisory Commission, and who knows who else, will have to do some political soul searching, and have lots of meetings.

Stevens’ legal appeal process moves forward, and he’ll fight tooth and nail, like he always does. And amazingly, he is still eligible, despite his seven felony convictions, for his senate pension of $122,000 a year, courtesy of taxpayers. Although there is a recently-passed federal law that prohibits felons from collecting on these pensions, Stevens’ particular felonies were not on the list, and they were committed before the law went into effect. Maybe next time.





Vote on Ousting Ted Stevens Delayed. Happy Birthday. UPDATED!

18 11 2008

Ted Stevens turns 85 today, and the GOP has voted to postpone a vote today that would boot Stevens from the GOP conference, until after the results of the Alaska Senate race are known. I guess that’s about as good a birthday present as the embattled Senator can expect this year.

As it stands, Democratic challenger Mark Begich leads Stevens by 1022 votes, a slim lead, but one prognosticators believe may be enough to hold through the last major round of vote counting today. 24,000 votes will be tallied by this evening, and the only ones remaining after that will be votes received from overseas, which will continue to be accepted until Wednesday. Ballots must be postmarked by midnight on November 4th, and are allowed two weeks to arrive in Alaska.

One of the questions on everyone’s mind is what happens when the current administration leaves office? The number of individuals on the list of last-minute pardons to come can only be imagined at this point. Will Stevens be one of those on that list? Not according to Stevens himself who was asked if he would seek a pardon.

Stevens simply said “No” when asked about a Bush pardon, and bristled when a reporter asked if he expected to be expelled as a political liability to Republicans battling an image of corruption.

“That’s just your words,” he said. “As a matter of fact, when the indictment was announced, they said it was not a corruption case, it was not a bribery case. It was a simple matter of failing to disclose. Maybe some of the verbiage that you are using is not proper.”

Senate Republicans are meeting to determine their leadership and a variety of motions. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) had intended to offer a motion expelling Stevens from the conference, but postponed it until Thursday just minutes after Tuesday morning’s meeting began.

“I don’t like to use the word ‘pleased,’ but I’m happy with that,” Stevens said of the delay.

Stevens said his race in Alaska won’t be final until Nov. 25, and that he remains confident of victory. He is currently trailing Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D) by more than 1,000 votes.

“I still think I’m going to win,” he said.

Stevens said he expects the Republican Party will ask for a recount in the race, given the narrow margin.

So, that’s the word from Ted Stevens who is one tough nut, and cantankerous to the end. No asking for a pardon (at least not officially), and a probable recount. The bad news is that this election will seemingly never end. The good news is that a hand recount will potentially expose some election “abnormalities” that are a result of the unreliable and easily manipulated Diebold machines responsible for the vote tally that was tampered with in 2004, and that continue to be used to this day.

And the ride goes on.

UPDATE – First new results in!

Mark Begich – 146,286

Ted Stevens – 143,912

That gives Begich a comfortable lead of 2,374

*****************************************************

UPDATE #2:  Finall tally for the day has Mark Begich up by 3724!  Will Stevens concede?  Will Begich declare victory?  Will we have a recount?  Stay tuned!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 198 other followers