Jury Dismissed for the Day at Stevens Trial.

22 10 2008

The jury in the Senator Ted Stevens corruption trial has left for the day. (door closing noise)

They were supposed to leave at 4:45pm, but asked permission to leave early.

The jury returned to Sullivan’s court at 4:25 p.m. Sullivan said they had sent a note.

Paraphrasing, he said jurors wanted to leave early. “Kind of stressful right now – we need a minute of clarity right now.”

No problem, Sullivan said. “Of course I will let you go.”

What does this mean? I was expecting a request for more dry erase markers, or a question about an electrical invoice, or something else. But “Can we go early because we’re stressed out?” I didn’t see that one.

So, what do you think?





The Stevens Indictment Welcomes – Dick Cheney?

23 08 2008

We knew that there would be jewels aplenty in those 67,000 pieces of paper, and hundreds of taped phone calls and videos that make up the body of evidence to be used against Ted Stevens in his upcoming trial.  Here’s the latest.

There’s a new player in our cast of unseemly characters…none other than Dick Cheney.  Apparently a two year old letter from Cheney to the Alaska Legislature has surfaced from the pile o’ steaming evidence.  The letter urged the Legislature to speed things up and get the gas pipeline project settled.  Remember that?  When Frank Murkowski was foaming at the mouth like a rabid animal telling us we had to do it NOW NOW NOW or the WORLD WILL END I TELL YOU!!!

According to a Justice motion, Stevens told Allen, “I’m gonna try to see if I can get some bigwigs from back here and say, ‘Look … you gotta get this done’.” Two days later, Cheney wrote a letter to the Alaska Legislature urging members to “promptly enact” a bill to build the pipeline. The letter was considered unusual because the White House rarely contacts state lawmakers about pending legislative matters. It also angered state Democrats, who accused Cheney of pushing oil-company interests. The former executive director of Cheney’s energy task force had gone to work as a lobbyist for British Petroleum, one of three firms slated to build the pipeline.

Stevens confirmed to NEWSWEEK last week that he asked Cheney to write the letter. “We wanted the federal government to tell the state to act quickly on it,” he said. (A spokesman for Alaska’s other senator, Lisa Murkowski, said her office also had contacts with Cheney’s office.) A Cheney spokeswoman said his office does not comment on pending legal matters.

Interesting.  So our web has added two new strands, and names have been spoken – Dick Cheney and Lisa Murkowski.  Apparently the prosecution is not all that eager to bring up the Cheney connection, as the letter has strangely not been cited by the Justice Department.  Following this trail to the end might land the executive branch somewhere they don’t want to be, like under a magnifying glass.

But, you never know.  Dick Cheney could end up on the witness stand.  Maybe the reason they’re avoiding this is to keep him from making the Bible spontaneously combust when he’s sworn in… That could be really embarrassing.





Stevens’ Trial to be Held in D.C.

20 08 2008

No surprise. Judge Emmett Sullivan today ruled that Ted Stevens will have to stand trial in D.C. where he allegedly committed the seven felonies for which he is accused.

Stevens’ lawyer Brendan Sullivan (another Sullivan) bloviated for over an hour, explaining how witnesses will be inconvenienced, and Stevens’ campaign time will be impinged, etc. It took Judge Sullivan all of about 5 minutes to say no dice.

Sullivan the judge stated several times that video testimony and cross-examination of witnesses will be allowed, and reminded Sullivan the attorney that the court had already bent over backwards to accommodate Stevens’ request for a speedy trial. In addition, the ‘work week’ of the trial may be cut to four days, allowing Stevens to fly home for long weekends of campaigning.

So, the good news for us (bad news for Stevens) is that Stevens may actually get a fair trial. The bad news for us, of course, is no big media extravaganza in Alaska. That’s OK. We should be willing to forgo the festivities for the sake of justice (even though it’s just no fun).





Stevens & Cowdery Join ‘Republican Offenders’

20 08 2008
Image from Republican Offenders

Image from Republican Offenders

For those of you who, like me, have anxiously been awaiting the latest update of Republican Offenders, wait no more.  So inundated they were with Republican indictments lately, it took longer than usual.  The site now reflects Alaska’s latest two contributions:  Senator Ted “I am innocent” Stevens, and John “I am innocent” Cowdery.  They join Pete “I am innocent” Kott, Vic “I am innocent” Kohring…etc.





More Preemptive Sleuthing – This Time By Stevens.

17 08 2008

The latest news nugget released by the FBI in the Ted Stevens case is rather interesting…

Apparently they’ve got a phone call recorded between Senator S and “Person A” that sounds a little suspicious. The court document reads:

By mid-May 2007, Stevens learned that Person A had been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in D.C. On May 17, 2007, Stevens sent Person A two emails that discussed Person A’s upcoming grand jury testimony. In the first email, Stevens told Person A that “I hope we can work something out to make sure you aren’t led astray on this occasion.” 

In the second, Stevens was more explicit: “don’t answer questions you don’t KNOW the answers to.”

“Work something out?”  Hmmmm….  Maybe he’s just ‘pulling a Palin’, you know, a little pre-emptive sleuthing and groundwork, just to get the lay of the land before the trial.  That’s OK, right?  Because if you know what they’re going to find, you can prepare.  It’s only fair…

It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if more stuff like this doesn’t come to light.  You can fit a LOT in 67,000 pieces of paper, plus audio and video.  And judges tend not to like that sort of thing.

Stevens’ attorneys after requesting a speedy trial, are already singing the blues because now they don’t have time to review all the evidence and prepare and adequate defense in time for the speedy trial they requested.  What’s that old saying?  Be careful what you wish for.





Ted’s Condo Revealed!

15 08 2008

 

Remember when Don Young falsely  claimed to have won the Hero of the Taxpayer Award from Taxpayers for Common Sense?

Well the actual Watchdog Group who would presumably never in a million years give any kind of award to the likes of Don Young, did some excellent digging on another member of Alaska’s congressional delegation.  Utilizing the wonders of Google Earth, we can now get a peek at the latest piece of controversial real estate in Ted Stevens’ closet. 

Not the chalet in Girdwood this time, but a luxury seaside condo on the Gold Coast of Florida. Prosecutors have now alleged that Stevens bought and flipped a $5000 investment in this condo for a cool $129,250 profit.

Federal prosecutors filed a new motion late yesterday that alleges that between 2001 and 2003, Sen. Stevens had been “intimately involved in a Florida real estate transaction” with an unknown individual who the prosecutors describe as a “personal friend.” After an initial investment of a mere $5,000, the prosecutors allege that  “Stevens’ friend sold his real estate interest only six months later, with an eventual gross profit to Stevens of more than $100,000.” Stevens’ own 2003 disclosure reports put the exact profit from the transaction at $129,250.  To assist in purchasing the property, Senator Stevens’ friend provided him with $31,000, interest-free for the initial downpayment on the garden apartment at Carroll Walk Condominiums in Bay Harbor, Florida.  Also despite the fact that he knowingly carried the debt for more than 10 months, Sen. Stevens did not report the loan as a liability on his Senate financial disclosure forms.

Sure pays to have ‘personal friends’.  Nice digs.  Hey….is that?…..look at the picture…yes…yes….I think…is that a little Viking barbeque  grill on the deck?

 





Stevens Shoots Self in Foot. ‘Keep it Up,’ Think Dems.

5 08 2008

There’s some major faulty logic going on in the Stevens campaign. Now back in the state, Ted Stevens did the whole dog & pony show at his campaign headquarters holding a rally, where he was reported by ADN to have been in the presence of a “large, supportive crowd”. He also had quite a spectacle when he was  he was escorted by a parade of bikers. At least Ted didn’t volunteer his wife Catherine to participate in a topless biker beauty contest like McCain did with Cindy.  (There are no words.)

And…Stevens wants his trial to be moved from D.C. to Alaska because sure…we’re impartial here, right? Don’t pay any attention to the screaming crowd at the airport named for him, Justice Department. Nothing to see here…

It’s not like he’s got anything to worry about in the primary. The most recent post-indictment poll indicated there’s really no competition. So why the effort to gather the troops and get that front page story and photos on the Anchorage Daily News? Seems to me like the more balloons and confetti, the less the chances of Stevens getting his way with the trial relocation.

Not that I’m complaining. Just felt a need to state the obvious.





Post-Indictment Poll Looks Ugly for Stevens.

2 08 2008

Ivan Moore Research released some brand new Alaska senate poll numbers today.  Numbers in parentheses were taken 7/18-22.  The second set were taken after the indictment from 7/30-31.

Stevens –  35  (43)

Begich –  56  (51)

Margin of Error 4.8% 

Ker……..plunk.  Looks like barring a well-placed lightning strike, Begich has it.

And lest you worry that he’ll be defeated in the primary leaving a less tarnished candidate to go toe-to-toe with Begich:

Ted Stevens: 59  (70)

Dave Cuddy:  19  (21)

Other:  2 (2)

Undecided: 20 (7)

Looks like Stevens is in.  But, you never know…Vic Other…er, I mean Vic Vickers is waiting in the wings ready to make his move! (stifling laughter)  Well, if he loses, he can still have something to look forward to in 2009…his very first Permanent Fund Check!





Ted Stevens Guilty? Not Guilty? We Don’t Care.

31 07 2008

 

Most people who commit a crime in Alaska plead to have the trial moved out of state because they know that the local jury will be biased.  After all, jurors live here, and they have felt the crime firsthand through the media, by knowing people who were affected, by water cooler gossip,…by osmosis.  It’s simply impossible, they claim,  for potential jurors to be impartial and give the suspect a fair trial.

And yet Stevens wants his case moved TO Alaska. He wants it close to home. Why?  Because in this case, not having fairness works to his advantage. Because he knows that Alaskans have been bought. If you’ve been elected to office, the majority of Alaskans don’t care what you do as long as you bring home the pork. We will throw the law, the constitution, our integrity and anything else under the bus if we feel like we’ve gotten free money out of it. Money we deserve, money we don’t deserve….whatever. If it’s green, our integrity is up for sale.

It’s ironic, isn’t it?  For a state that claims so many ‘conservatives’, how is it that they are so eager to take Federal money, take the permanent fund check, take all the pork that can be heaped on a plate and ask for seconds.  Isn’t that what conservatives say about liberals?  That all they want is free stuff from the government?  Someone explain this to me. 

If we give Ted Stevens a pass on 7 felony counts, and re-elect him we advertise loud and clear the fact that we prostitute ourselves for pork.  We don’t care if Stevens got bought by Veco, because we’ve been bought by Stevens. We walk through the shiny granite-covered Ted Stevens International Airport and we feel so darned important. Probably just like Ted feels when he hangs out on the wraparound deck, and fires up that Viking barbeque grill he got from Veco.  Here we stand with our collective hand out like Vic Kohring sniveling and groveling to the Federal Government.  We’re all so busy scratching each others backs, we simply don’t care about ethics….which is exactly why this state is in the condition it’s in, and why we need the FBI to shovel us out of our own dung heap.

Stevens knows he’s got a winning strategy if he can move the trial to Alaska. If you doubt me, check out some of the responses on today’s ADN blog:

“Guilty or not, Uncle Ted has done too much for us to be dragged through the mud. Alaska wouldn’t be what it is without him!”

“Go Stevens! Three votes in my household will be for the senior Senator. He’s going to fight this just like he’s fought for Alaskans for the past 40 years in the Senate.”

“Without his dedication to serve Alaskans and help protect a lot of bill of rights, Our state would not be in the position its in receiving a record high dividend we all love getting so much.”

There are dozens more but I don’t have the stomach to go on…

It has been said that in life, any situation, whatever form it takes, exists only because the circumstances were perfect for bringing that situation about. What does that say about the political system in Alaska? That it is structured perfectly to bring about corruption, so it has. That is why voting for Clean Elections (Ballot Measure 3, now renamed Bill Providing for Public Funding in Campaigns) is a vote equal to or greater in importance than a vote for any one candidate. The system needs to be voted out, or we are doomed to repeat this cycle until we learn the lesson.

We have no right to be disgusted or disappointed when we see the string of felons streaming out of our state government and into federal prison, because we have gotten exactly the government we deserve.  We have been bought off to look the other way.  Sound familiar?

We’ll find out whether the trial moves to Alaska on August 19th.  I maintain enough faith in the system to think that there’s no way it will be allowed to happen.  I hope I’m right.





Obama’s Speech for Begich

30 07 2008

I’ve been to several Obama events now, and inevitably the question arises – “When is Obama coming to Alaska?”  And everyone behind a microphone has the same answer, “The campaign knows how we feel.  They know everyone really wants him to come to Alaska.  We keep telling them.”  This is followed by hopeful smiles, shuffling of feet and occasionally a shrug.

Well, tell them  again and keep telling them.  (KNOCK KNOCK – HELLO Obama Headquarters in Alaska…ARE YOU THERE?)   The time is right.  The Stevens indictment is the next best thing to a hand-delivered engraved invitation.  While it’s fresh in everyone’s mind, an Obama visit would all but guarantee Begich the seat – and throw in Berkowitz or Benson for good measure.  And weren’t we promised a visit when those two undeclared Alaska superdelegates went for Obama?  And I believe that Alaska is the only state Obama has not visited.  The “49 State Strategy”?  Hmmmm….it’s missing something.  I know…ALASKA. 

Once again Chris Weigan reads my mind.  He wrote another excellent post about Obama coming north ASAP.

Barack Obama’s Introduction Speech For Mark Begich

Thank you, Alaskans, for the warm welcome. And thank you for your support in the Alaskan caucus this year, as well. I am honored to get a chance to speak to you today in support of Mayor Mark Begich for the United States Senate.

The man Mayor Begich is running against just got indicted in federal court for corruption charges while he is sitting as your state’s senator. Alaska has seen more than its fair share of corruption these past few years from its Republican officeholders, so this news may not have been as shocking to you folks as it was to the rest of America. Alaskans already knew that the Republican Party up here has been in the pockets of Big Oil for a long, long time. Only now are we realizing, with all the indictments and court cases, just how far that corruption has spread.

Which is why I am willing to bet that you won’t see John McCain visiting Alaska before the election in order to support Ted Stevens. Think about that — the Republican nominee for president can’t afford to be seen with your senior senator right now.

It’s not because they disagree on the issues. I don’t agree with Mayor Begich on every issue, and yet I fully support his bid for Senate. One of the biggest issues we disagree on is where, and how much, to drill for oil. I know that, up here, drilling for oil equals jobs. But I will be honest with you about my stance, even if I know you may disagree with me — or not vote for me — as a result. And I expect that as senator, Mark Begich will fight for what he believes is best for Alaska, and for Alaskans. I would expect no less — that is the job of any senator.

Read the rest HERE.





Mark Begich on the Ed Schulz Show

30 07 2008

Mark Begich just got interviewed on the Ed Schulz show, (broadcast on local Air America affiliate KUDO 1080am) and knocked it out of the park. He took the high road on the Stevens issue. He had to do it really, in order not to alienate centrists and fans of the ‘old Stevens’ in Alaska, but he did it well.

He also talked about issues which probably made many progressives in the lower 48 cringe (gun ownership, drilling in ANWR), but did so eloquently. Whether or not progressives in Alaska, and across the country agree, they will undoubtedly be seeking new information on directional drilling from the Sourdough field, and other issues not generally mentioned by the mainstream media. He explained that Stevens and other Alaska Republicans don’t talk about options in drilling because they like having a target to rail against – environmentalists. In this black & white battle, the middle way often gets overlooked in the discussion.

Begich summed it up by citing recent poll numbers that had him with a nice lead over Stevens, even before the indictment, and by stating that Alaska is ready for change, and he was confident of a victory.

As I write, Ed Schulz just threw out the question, “What do you think about this Alaskan candidate wanting to drill?” – then a commercial break. Reactions might be interesting.





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.