GOP Senator Stevens Indicted

Senator Ted Sevens (R-AK), the longest-serving GOP Senator in U.S history was indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday, July 29, for seven counts of making false statements related to receiving 250,000 from the energy company Veco, an Alaskan-based company Stevens has assisted in Washington. The acting assistant attorney general Matt Friedrich stressed that the indictment did not accuse Stevens of accepting bribes. The indictment does not require Stevens to abdicate his seat in the Senate, but it has restricted his position and placed him in a precarious seat for the 2008 election.

Ted Barrett of CNN.com reports, July 29, 2008:

The indictment does not restrict Stevens’ ability to vote in the Senate, speak on the Senate floor or participate in committee work. Stevens, however, did say he would relinquish his co-chairmanships and ranking member positions, in accordance with Senate Republican rules.

Reacting to the indictment, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said it was up to Senate Republicans to decide if any punishment was warranted.

A World War II veteran, Stevens began his career in the U.S Senate in 1968 and has been re-elected six times, the last in 2002. Stevens’s Senate seat was one of the few the GOP had considered safe going into the 2008 elections. The recent indictment has changed the situation dramatically.

Martin Kady II and John Bresnahan of Politico.com report, July 29, 2008:

This is very bad for the party,” a retiring Senate Republican told Politico as news of Ted Stevens’ indictment echoed across Capitol Hill on Tuesday. “The timing on this couldn’t be worse.”

One year ago today, Stevens pleaded with his Republican colleagues to “stay with me” as he rode out a Justice Department investigation and an FBI raid on his Alaska home.

Now, there’s an arrest warrant out for the 84-year-old senator. He’s been stripped of his top committee rankings. His iconic career is crumbling. His hopes for reelection are in serious doubt.

While spelling trouble for Stevens’s re-election efforts and the GOP position, it provides muster to the Democrats who are seeking for a 60-seat filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.