Alaska's senior U.S. Senator Ted Stevens was indicted by a Federal grand jury on July 29th, 2008 on seven counts of making false statements over a six-year period to conceal receiving more than $250,000 associated with a broad renovation of the home he and his wife own in Girdwood. First spotted on the Washington Post blog and CNN, the Anchorage Daily News has now picked up the story and is the primary Alaska media source at the moment. Click HERE for Google search results of the phrase "Ted Stevens indictment"; this will bring up a lot of professional blog reaction. I will be frequently updating this post with additional media links and reaction from other Alaska notables as the story continues to evolve.
Other Alaska media story links:
- Click HERE for the Anchorage Daily News Ted Stevens page. Contains an index to numerous Ted Stevens stories relating to this investigation.
- Click HERE for KTUU Channel 2 story.
- Click HERE to get to the KTVA Channel 11 main page, where there are eight Ted Stevens stories posted.
- Click HERE for Fairbanks Daily News-Miner story.
- Click HERE for Mat-Su Frontiersman story.
- Click HERE for Alaska Report story. While the Alaska Report has an anti-Republican bias, it is a consistent bias, so at least you know where they're coming from.
Here's the pertinent excerpt from the official Department of Justice statement:
United States Senator Theodore F. Stevens of Alaska was charged today in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia with seven counts of making false statements related to Stevens’ financial disclosure forms, Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich of the Criminal Division announced today.
The seven-count indictment charges Sen. Stevens, the former chairperson of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, with engaging in a nearly eight-year scheme to conceal his receipt of more than $250,000 in things of value from VECO Corporation, formerly a multi-national oil services company based in Alaska, and Bill J. Allen, the Chief Executive Officer of VECO at the time. According to the indictment, Stevens concealed these things of value from his publicly filed United States Senate financial disclosure forms. The things of value that Stevens allegedly received included: substantial home improvements to property Stevens owns in Girdwood, Alaska; automobile exchanges in which Stevens received new vehicles worth far more than the used vehicles Stevens provided in exchange; and household goods. The indictment also alleges that Sen. Stevens, during the same time that he was concealing his continuing receipt of these things of value from VECO and Allen, received solicitations for official actions from Allen and other VECO employees, and that Sen. Stevens used his position and office on behalf of VECO during that same time period.
The indictment specifically charges Stevens with making false statements on his financial disclosure forms for calendar years 2001 to 2006. The indictment alleges that, during each of those years, Stevens knowingly failed to report his receipt of any thing of value from Allen, VECO or two other individuals, despite the fact that the forms required Stevens to report his receipt of such things of value.
As set forth in the indictment, the Ethics in Government Act requires all members of the United States Senate to file a financial disclosure form, detailing specified financial transactions that the elected official engaged in during the prior calendar year, including disclosure of gifts over a specified monetary amount and disclosure of liabilities in excess of $10,000 owed during any point of a calendar year.
Click HERE to view 28-page indictment in PDF format. Here's an outline of the counts:
- Count One: False Statements on each Senate Financial Disclosure Form from 1999-2006.
- Count Two: False Statements on 2001 Senate Financial Disclosure Form.
- Count Three: False Statements on 2002 Senate Financial Disclosure Form.
- Count Four: False Statements on 2003 Senate Financial Disclosure Form.
- Count Five: False Statements on 2004 Senate Financial Disclosure Form.
- Count Six: False Statements on 2005 Senate Financial Disclosure Form.
- Count Seven: False Statements on 2006 Senate Financial Disclosure Form.
Senator Stevens' Reaction: Ted Stevens has issued the following statement:
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.
Senatorial Reaction: Prominent Republican senators are lining up behind him. First, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said it was up to Senate Republicans to determine if any sanctions were warranted. Senator John Warner (R-VA) recalled that he and Stevens were veterans of World War II and that "he was a hero and a fighter, and he's been a fighter for this country since then -- a fighter for his state ever since and a strong leader in the Senate. Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) said, "I have known Ted Stevens for 28 years, and I have always found him to be impeccably honest". And Senator Daniel Inouye, a Hawaii Democrat who is one of Stevens' closest friends in the Senate, said he thinks Stevens is innocent of the charges against him.
Other Alaska Reaction: More reaction from the usual suspects now filtering in and posted HERE. According to ADN's Alaska Politics blog, UAF political science professor Jerry McBeath believes Ted Stevens' career is over, primarily because the indictments took place during an election year. McBeath also questions the viability of the other Republican candidates, and believes Democrat Mark Begich may have just won the election by default.
Congressman Don Young said, "Ted is one of the most effective and honest legislators I have ever worked with. He has worked diligently to serve Alaska and has fought to make life better for people in every region of our state. I hope people will not rush to judgment and will let the judicial process work. The process is based on being innocent until proven guilty".
Senator Lisa Murkowski said, “I was shocked to learn of today’s announcement. I know Ted Stevens to be an honorable, hard-working Alaskan who has served our state well for as long as we have been a state. As to the charges, we are at the beginning of the criminal process and there is a judicial procedure in place that will be followed”.
Governor Sarah Palin says the indictment rocks the foundation of the state, but says calls for his resignation are premature.
On KFQD conservative shock jock Dan Fagan's program, Republican U.S. House candidate Gabrielle LeDoux called in and described it as a tragedy of Shakesperian proportions. She also stated that it proves the rule of law applies to everyone, great and small alike, but reaffirmed that the presumption of innocence must prevail for now.
Alaska pollsters are weighing in. "Ted's prospects for winning the primary, they obviously just went up in smoke," said Anchorage pollster Marc Hellenthal. "It kind of opens up the Republican primary." Hellenthal believes David Cuddy would be the odds-on favorite for the Republican nomination but has run a lackluster campaign so far. He thinks the wild card is Alaska political newcomer Vic Vickers, owner of a Florida-based maritime company, who plans to spend $750,000 of his own money on winning the primary. Meanwhile, Ivan Moore, another Anchorage pollster, said he doubts Stevens could win the Republican primary while under indictment. But it is possible, he said. Primary voters tend to be "true believers," he said. Moore said he did a poll on the Senate race last week that showed Stevens with 70.4 percent of the support in the primary, Cuddy with 20.4 percent and Vickers with just .4 percent.
Former Alaska State Representative Andrew Halcro reacts on his blog, pointing to an op-ed piece he wrote for the Daily News a year ago.
If Stevens withdraws from the race or resigns from the U.S. Senate, there are six other Republican candidates for the job. Listed in order of perceived strength and electability (click on the candidate's highlighted name to go directly to his official campaign website):
(1). Dave Cuddy: Has the most money, name recognition, and strongest power base in South Central Alaska. A solid doctrinnaire conservative, wants to deport all illegals through attrition. Recommend all Alaska Republicans prepare to support Dave Cuddy if the worst happens.
(2). Rick Sikma: The second strongest candidate, is developing a power base in the Fairbanks North Star Borough area. Also a conservative. See my previous post on Sikma. Sikma is a viable candidate, but Cuddy stands for similar values and is a stronger candidate. We need to beat Mark Begich in November, so we need to send up the strongest Republican.
(3). Gerald Heikes: Has been in the race for a while, but has little cash or stroke. Not a significant factor.
(4). Vic Vickers: A single-issue candidate who just recently developed a campaign website. Not really a factor.
(5). Michael D. Corey: A marginal candidate who doesn't even have a campaign website. Not a factor. See brief Anchorage Press profile HERE.
(6). Richard Wanda: Another marginal candidate who doesn't even have a campaign website. Not a factor
Click HERE to find out about ALL Alaska candidates for Federal office this year.
Stevens’s 2008 race is rated a “toss up” by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, and he was poised to face a tough general election match-up against Democratic Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich. Alaska’s congressional primary is Aug. 26. Stevens was expected to survive his six-way primary challenge, although it’s unclear if the indictment will change that—or even if Stevens will continue to run for re-election. Young also faces an uphill re-election battle.
Commentary: This story is still too young. It's appropriate to see where this leads before rushing to judgment. But I do believe that Dave Cuddy is the strongest alternative, and I believe Republicans with means should dig into their pockets and flood Cuddy with campaign contributions so he can be better positioned to become the heir apparent if Stevens bows out.