Moderator in SFF, Notebooks, Pre-Built/Barebones
- Aug 23, 2003
During what is already a abysmally bad week for the McCain/Palin campaign, Ted Stevens will be making headlines shortly when the long-time Alaska Republican gets hung out to dry on corruption charges that, given the evidence, look very easy to prove. Of course, that will again bring to the media forefront the fact that Palin served as the head of a 527 group for Ted Stevens early in her political career...once again proving she was "for" something before she was "against" it.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Prosecutors in the corruption trial of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens called the Alaska Republican a crafty politician in their opening arguments Thursday, The Associated Press reported.
Stevens is fighting a seven-count indictment accusing him of filing false information on mandatory Senate financial disclosure forms.
Prosecutors say he failed to report gifts and services of substantial value from a large oil services contractor Veco Energy -- considered one of the state's biggest employers.
Prosecutor Brenda Morris said Stevens had learned how to hide such gifts during the decades he has spent in the Senate and has thumbed his nose at the public's right to know about the gifts, according to AP.
Stevens is not charged with receiving bribes, although prosecutors allege in the indictment that the senator "could and did use his official position and his office on behalf of Veco."
Stevens hopes to clear his name by November in time for voters to decide whether to re-elect him. He has continued to campaign since his July 29 indictment.
The judge will allow Stevens to be absent from the courtroom in the weeks ahead if Stevens needs to vote on Senate financial bailout legislation. He has asked defense lawyers not to emphasize his possible absence from the courtroom during the trial.
The federal courthouse is a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol.
District Judge Emmet Sullivan warned defense lawyers Wednesday not to use their client's absence to win favor.
"You are not to give the appearance that 'I'm not here because of the business of the people,' the judge said. "Of course, that's a double-edged sword," Sullivan said, referring to troubled efforts to come up with a government bailout plan.
Among the first prosecution witnesses scheduled Thursday are two employees of Veco Energy, an Alaska-based company before it was acquired by a Colorado firm. Prosecutors hope to establish that Stevens was required to report the company gave him the hundreds of thousands of dollars in home improvements to a chalet he owns in Alaska.
Prosecutors allege that Stevens received more than $250,000 worth of gifts, including a new first floor, garage and deck on his home; a new Land Rover -- exchanged for an older car -- and a gas grill.
A sculpture of fish migrating upstream may also come up in testimony, which is said to be worth $29,000. Prosecutor Edward Sullivan has told the judge "it's a very large statue sitting on his front porch" at the senator's home in Alaska.
"It's the government's position that it was given and not reported," he said.
Stevens is an avid fisherman. His attorneys have said the sculpture belongs to a foundation that is planning to create a Stevens congressional library.
The jury was seated Wednesday and consists of 11 women and five men.
All 16 will hear the case, with four serving as alternates. Their status will not be disclosed until the end of the trial.
Spectators and the media did not learn the names of the jurors, who in open court were referred to by assigned numbers.