Stevens indicted, vows to fight charges
The indictment of Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens on charges that he lied about accepting gifts from an oilfield service contractor only adds to his party’s already bleak electoral prospects in November.
While Stevens has vowed to fight charges and, through a spokesman, to move “full steam ahead” with his re-election bid, he’s received little support from the country’s top Republican, President Bush. The only reaction to Steven’s indictment came from White House press secretary Dana Perino who said, “The president has been working with Sen. Stevens for many years and he appreciates his strong leadership on key issues. This is a legal matter that the Department of Justice is handling, and so we will not comment further on it.”
Stevens, who returned to work in the Senate July 30, has been stripped of his committee leadership posts under GOP rules. He is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court July 31. It will be up to a judge to decide where he can travel, whom he needs to check in with and what rules he must follow as he campaigns and continues working as a senator.
Stevens is charged with taking more than a quarter-million dollars worth of unreported gifts from oil services contractor VECO Corp. and its executives will play right into Democratic efforts to paint Republicans as a party captive to the oil industry.
Stevens, 84, said July 29, “I am innocent of these charges and intend to prove that.”
“Our office has been flooded today with calls and e-mails from supporters urging the senator to press on,” campaign spokesman Aaron Saunders said.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told reporters July 29 that it “would be premature at this point” to demand that Stevens resign.
—The Associated Press