With the nation’s eyes on Palin and the Presidential race, Alaskans have not forgotten the importance of the other races to be decided on November 4th. Indicted senior Senator Ted Stevens is holding his own in the polls against Democratic challenger, and mayor of Anchorage, Mark Begich. Stevens is an institution who is as much a part of Alaskan history as the gold rush. Frankly, there are plenty of Alaskans who wouldn’t hold it against Uncle Ted even if he did “get a little something extra” for himself. They almost feel he deserves it, even though they might not say it out loud.
The presence of Palin on the ticket this year will bring out many Republican voters who may just cast their vote for Ted while they are there. So, the outcome of this trial is pivotal to Alaska’s chance of sending a Democrat to the Senate.
Here’s the latest on the Stevens trial.
WASHINGTON – Sen. Ted Stevens’ wife, Catherine Stevens, is tentatively scheduled to testify today or Wednesday in her husband’s corruption trial, although the senator’s lawyers haven’t said whether she will.
Stevens himself is at the end of the list, as a potential final witness. It’s not clear whether he will testify either, however, and the judge reminded Stevens – out of the presence of the jury – that he was under no obligation to do so.
“It’s your choice, you don’t have to say anything,” said U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan.
Tuesday morning, Judge Sullivan ruled that thousands of e-mails sent by Stevens’ wife, Catherine, will be turned over to federal prosecutors, who had first asked for them more than a year ago.
Communications between Catherine Stevens and her husband “will be relevant to show the material elements of the charges in the indictment, including defendant’s knowledge, intent, and motivation for concealing the benefits he received from VECO,” prosecutors argued.
They added that “in particular, we anticipate that certain documents at the time of the renovations will reflect that both Catherine Stevens and defendant knew they had not paid for the VECO work, and documents thereafter will reflect that Catherine Stevens and defendant took steps in 2004 to mislead the press when the media was investigating the costs associated with the renovations.”
Judge Sullivan said he saw no reason for prosecutors not to have the documents and ordered Stevens’ lawyers to turn them over.
The 84-year-old senator is on trial for lying on the Senate financial disclosure forms he’s required to file each year. He’s charged with accepting gifts and home renovations worth more than $250,000, chiefly from Veco Corp. and its former chief executive, Bill Allen, who was the star witness for the prosecution.
The renovations in 2000 and 2001 doubled the size of the Stevens’ home in Girdwood, expanding it from a small, A-frame cabin into a two-story retreat with multiple decks, a Jacuzzi tub and a Viking outdoor grill. Prosecutors have been laying out a case that much of the work, including the decks as well as plumbing and a complete electrical overhaul, was paid for by Veco.
In another interesting development, while the legal limit for gifts is $250, the communication the prosecution asked for includes documents relating to anything of value given to Stevens, his wife Catherine, and his daughter, Lily, including “any documents relating to diamond earrings.”
I have a feeling those diamond earrings weren’t the under $250 kind.