It is the highest-profile felony conviction in a sweeping four-year federal investigation into corruption in Alaska politics, and an almost unprecedented conviction by a jury of a sitting U.S. senator.
Now, voters will decide whether Stevens, who has represented the state in the U.S. Senate since 1968 and before that helped usher in statehood for Alaska, should continue to serve as their senator. For the first time in his career, Stevens faces a competitive re-election fight, against Democratic Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich.
Stevens, who was indicted in late July, sought an early trial date, gambling he would face voters as an innocent man. Even without the conviction, though, to re-elect Stevens, voters would have to overlook four weeks of testimony that exposed some of the senator’s innermost financial and personal secrets to the world.
The guilty verdict will complicate not only his re-election bid but also the remainder of his term in the Senate. His colleagues have the option — never actually exercised — of voting to expel him before his term ends in January. Four U.S. senators have been convicted of crimes, historians note, but not one has ever received a presidential pardon.
Convicted on seven felony counts and still running for his office. The old crook's got a pair o' brass ones, I'll say that for him.