Oct 30, 2008

Sen. Ted Stevens Finds Appeals Suddenly Appealing

Sen. Ted Stevens, an Alaska Republican Senator since 1968, was convicted by a jury of seven felony charges on Oct. 27, 2008. The felonies all involved corruption.  Stevens accepted huge gifts from oil corporations, but never bothered to report them.

stevens.jpg

Echoing the reactions of multitudes of convicted felons, Stevens immediately proclaimed his innocence and called the jury's verdict unjust. He blamed the verdict on prosecutorial misconduct and vowed that he would get it overturned on appeal. Blah, blah, blah -- so say all the powerful hypocrites like Stevens when they finally get caught.

What's particularly delicious about Stevens' professed faith in the appellate process is its newness. In fact, Stevens wasn't always such a big fan of appeals. Back in the mid-1990s, Stevens voted to limit the right of state court prisoners sentenced to death to appeal their convictions. Isn't it too bad that prisoners sentenced to death don't have the right to vote on Stevens' right to appeal?

Prior to his conviction, Stevens had gained notoriety for championing fiscal conservatism while earmarking huge sums of taxpayer money for pet projects that would benefit big Alaska donors. The most famous of these earmarks was the so-called "Bridge to Nowhere," a ridiculously expensive project that would have reduced the travel time between two sparsely populated villages in Alaska.

Stevens' conviction may indicate that he never quite got that earmark fiasco out of his mind. When he comes up for sentencing in January of 2009, Stevens may find that he has built a Bridge to Prison.