Senator Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican senator and a figure in Alaska politics since before statehood, has been indicted on seven counts of making false statements.
Stevens, 84, has been dogged by a federal investigation into whether he pushed for fishing legislation that also benefited his son, an Alaska lobbyist. Authorities have also scrutinized his ties to indicted former VECO CEO Bill Allen, who paid employees to renovate the senator’s home.
None of the seven counts accuse Stevens of bribery. They all relate to the statements he made on financial disclosure forms from 1999 to the 2006 form. The indictment says Stevens “knowingly and intentionally sought to conceal and cover up his receipt of things of value by filing Financial Disclosure Forms that contained false statements and omissions.”
The press release says Stevens received $250,000 in things of value during “the eight year scheme.” The gifts included new and used furniture, a new stationary tool storage cabinet with new tools, and a new professional Viking gas grill. Stevens used these things at his home in Girdwood, Alaska.
Under Senate Republican party rules, an indictment on felony charges compels a member to temporarily give up his leadership posts, and Republican senators were told at their weekly luncheon today that Mr. Stevens would do so. Mr. Stevens has been the ranking minority member on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
Some reactions to the indictment of Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, on seven counts of failing to disclose thousands of dollars in services he received from a company that helped renovate his home.
U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska: “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.”
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska: “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.”
Matthew Friedrich, chief of the Justice Department’s criminal division: “According to the indictment, the total amount of gifts that Sen. Stevens is alleged to have received over the duration of the offense is greater than $250,000. Also according to the indictment, these items were not disclosed on Senator Stevens’ financial disclosure forms, which he filed under penalties of perjury, either as gifts or as liabilities, and further, that Senator Stevens did not reimburse or repay VECO or its chief executive officer for these items.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada: “I have served with Sen. Stevens my entire congressional career. It’s a sad day for him, us, but you know I believe in the American system of justice and he’s presumed innocent. ”
Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania: “I’ve known Ted Stevens for 28 years and have always known him to be impeccably honest.”
Sen. John Warner, R-Virginia: “All of us have times that we have to deal with that are tough. I wish him the best.”
Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group: “Taxpayers have a right to demand that their elected officials maintain the highest ethical standards and today’s events have made it even more clear that Sen. Stevens traded political favors for personal gain.”
Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group: “With this indictment, members of Congress have been put on notice that the Justice Department, on behalf of the American people, will not tolerate members abusing their positions for private personal gain.”
More on this developing story tonight on Alaska News Nightly, on APRN stations across Alaska.
The Associated Press and APRN