A little over two weeks ago Sarah Palin was found guilty of violating Alaska's ethics laws and now, following a year-long investigation by the FBI, Alaskan State Senator Ted Stevens has been tried and found guilty as well.
Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate's history and a figure of enormous influence in his state, was found guilty on Monday of violating ethics laws for failing to report gifts and services that he was given by friends.
A federal jury of eight women and four men from the District of Columbia found that the 84-year-old Mr. Stevens, who has represented Alaska in the Senate for more than 40 years, knowingly failed to list on Senate disclosure forms the receipt of several gifts and tens of thousands of dollars worth of remodeling work on his home in Girdwood, Alaska.
The verdict came just eight days before the senator is to face re-election and after more than three weeks of testimony, the highlight of which was Mr. Stevens making the calculated risk of taking the witness stand in his own defense. As the verdict was announced, the senator remained composed and stared at the ceiling while his lawyer, Brendan Sullivan, put his arm around him.
My guess is that Alaska's Republican community is do damn corrupt that Stevens will still win re-election, despite this conviction. Corruption is part of the Republican culture in Alaska, and its woven into fabric -- just like Palin's "Bridge to Nowhere" is forever embedded into American politics.
Mr. Stevens's defense was largely built on the notion that many of the goods and services he received were unasked for, and were things for which he had no use. In the case of the massage chair, he testified that it was not a gift from Bob Persons, a friend and restaurant owner, but rather a loan -- even though the chair has remained in his Washington home for more than seven years and has been used by the senator.
Moreover, he asserted that his wife of 28 years, Catherine, and not he, oversaw the remaking of the Alaska home from a simple A-frame cabin into a grander two-story residence fitted with two decks, a new garage and amenities like a whirlpool, steam room and expensive gas grill.
Palin gets a $150,000 high-fashion makeover - perfectly legit - but obscene nonetheless - and Stevens is surrounding himself with luxuries as well.
Welcome to the party of the rich!
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