Stevens Speaks. I am Irritated.

29 07 2008

We knew it would happen eventually, but it was still a shock.  I refer to the 7 felony counts of making false statements for which Ted Stevens was indicted today.  Stevens has now released a statement in response to the allegations:

I have proudly served this nation and Alaska for over 50 years. My public service began when I served in World War II. It saddens me to learn that these charges have been brought against me. I have never knowingly submitted a false disclosure form required by law as a U.S. Senator.
 
In accordance with Senate Republican Conference rules, I have temporarily relinquished my vice-chairmanship and ranking positions until I am absolved of these charges.
 
The impact of these charges on my family disturbs me greatly.
 
I am innocent of these charges and intend to prove that.
I keep reading this statement over and over…trying to really identify what I find so distasteful about it.  The simple facts are that the FBI has been investigating Senator Stevens for years.  They have determined that he lied about gifts he received from oil service company Veco.  The extent of these alleged lies has resulted in 7 felony indictments and unreported gifts of over $250,000.  And now what does Stevens have to say to the people of Alaska?
  • He has proudly served his nation and Alaska for 50 years.  He’s a World War II vet.

Yes, he’s been our senator for a long long time.  Yes, he’s proud of that.  And I respect his WWII service.  My father was a WWII vet, POW, and recipient of the purple heart.  I get it.  But that has squat to do with the fact that you lied on your financial disclosure forms.  WWII vets, or any other vets do not get special dispensation to break the law without consequences.  Neither do public officials.  Even ones who have been around a long time.  Longevity does not entitle you to break the law.

  • It saddens him that charges were brought.

I’m sure it does.  It does not sadden me.  It saddens me that our state government has been behaving so badly, and so contrary to the interest of Alaskans, that the investigations were warranted in the first place.  It saddens me that Alaska has been mired in this cesspool of political corruption for as long as it has.  It saddens me that the corruption was so extensive, and the influence so pervasive that we couldn’t do anything about this ourselves and had to rely on the FBI to intervene.  It saddens me that someone sent to DC to represent Alaska, who had the trust of the people,  succumbed to the temptations of power, and material comfort and forgot his higher purpose.  It does NOT sadden me that the boil of corruption is finally being lanced and that we actually may get another chance to start clean.

  • He never ‘knowingly’ submitted false statements.

Ignorance of the law?  Last time I checked, that didn’t wash.  And really….do we believe he forgot that Veco raised up his entire house and put a first floor under it?  You’ve got to do better than THAT.

  • The impact of the charges on his family disturbs him greatly.

Yes, I should think so.  But these are the things you’re supposed to think about beFORE you break the law.  This is the same thing I keep hearing over and over in reference to the Sarah Palin scandal.   Think of Chuck Kopp!  Think of his wife and kids!  Think of Mike Wooten!  Think of the children!  It’s really starting to hack me off because THEY are the ones who should have been thinking about their spouses and children.  Not the media.  This is Kindergarten stuff – If you do bad things, there will be consequences.  Throw in all the others who have whined about their families and what this is doing to them – Tom Anderson, Vic Kohring, Pete Kott…and on and on and on.  Yes!  It’s horrible that all the people that didn’t have anything to do with your behavior are suffering.  Perhaps…just perhaps..YOU should be apologizing to them, and not saying in effect, “If it weren’t for you damn people TELLING everyone I was doing something wrong, none of this would have happened!”  I feel tremendous compassion for the innocent victims in all this.  But zero guilt over placing the blame squarely where it is deserved.

And last but not least:

  • I am innocent!

And prisons are full of innocent men.

I keep hearing everyone trying to be politically correct, saying “This is a sad day for Alaska”.  Truth is, this is NOT a sad day.  The sad day happened when our politicians made the choice to betray the people they serve.

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Stevens Indicted! No…the other one!

29 07 2008

Speculation was running rampant about who the next to fall would be in the ongoing corruption investigations by the FBI here in Alaska. The general consensus was that it would be Ben Stevens, son of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, and former State Senate President.

I almost ran off the road when I heard the announcement on CNN. Ted Stevens has been indicted. This is HUGE.

The Justice Department will shortly be announcing the 7 count indictment all dealing with statements that were not deemed truthful to investigators. The announcement will come at 1:20pm EST….that’s in just a few minutes. Stay tuned for updates!

UPDATE 1: The Anchorage Daily News has posted a pdf copy of the 28-page indictment is available HERE. Stevens was charged with 7 felony counts of making false statements. Stevens apparently didn’t admit on his senate financial disclosure forms to receiving gifts totaling upwards of $250,000 (including a new Land Rover, a Viking barbecue grill, and extensive renovations to his home) from Veco. Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of the raid of his Girdwood residence, referred to in the indictment as ‘the chalet’.

UPDATE 2: Just listened to a live press conference held in DC by the Department of Justice.  Here’s the gist.

As a member of the Senate Stevens was required to file financial disclosure forms with the Secretary of the Senate.  The purpose of these forms is to disclose conflicts of interest and maintain public confidence in the US senate.  Stevens is alleged to have received “substantial amounts of material and labor” used to renovate his residence in Girdwood from Veco Corp.  This included:  First floor multiple bedrooms & bathroom & full basement, architectural design, assistance in lifting the residence to add a first floor, electrical, plumbing and framing, the addition of a wrap around deck, a plastic roof, heat tape system on the roof, gutter repair,  and electrical work. In addition were household goods – furniture, a gas range, and a tool storage cabinet.  Also mentioned was exchanging an old vehicle for a new one worth much more. The total amount is $250,000+  These items were not disclosed on forms which he filed under penalty of purgery.  He didn’t reimburse or repay Veco or Bill Allen for any of these items.  This is only the beginning of the criminal process, and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The investigation began in 2004 and covers the years 1999-2006. 7 convictions – Kott, Allen, Smith, Bobrick, Anderson, Kohring

From the Q&A with the press:

He has not been charged with bribery. Bribery requires specific evidence of quid pro quo.

A summons will be issued and he will be allowed to turn himself in, and will not be arrested.  Where and when this will happen is being negotiated.

Stevens was informed when his attorney received a call earlier today.

They wouldn’t talk about sentencing or how Stevens’ age might affect that, nor would they discuss a potential plea agreement.

The final question asked about the timing of the indictment, during an election year, and close to the primary.  The answer? “We bring cases based on our evaluations of the law and when they are ready.”  “Politics should play no part either in charges or the timing of indictments.  Policy has been followed to the letter.”