The feds got a clean sweep in their case against Sen. Ted Stevens, with the jury returning guilty verdicts on all seven counts.
Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens was convicted today of lying on financial disclosure forms to hide tens of thousands of dollars in gifts and renovations to his Alaska home that were financed mostly by a powerful business executive and his oil services company.
The verdict was announced just after 4 p.m. in a packed courtroom in U.S. District Court in Washington. Stevens (R) sat quietly as the jury foreman said the panel had reached a unanimous decision and found Stevens guilty on all seven counts of filing false financial disclosure forms.
Jurors, who re-started their deliberations at 9:30 a.m. today when a juror was replaced by an alternate, were somber as they walked into the courtroom to deliver the verdict and did not look at Stevens. No sentencing date has been set, and Stevens’s attorneys are expected to file motions seeking to have the verdict set aside.
Despite the guilty verdict, Stevens remains on the ballot in Alaska, where he is locked in a tight race with Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich.
If he can pull off an upset victory, Stevens could remain in the Senate for months, if not longer, if he chose to appeal the verdict. Tradition allows him to exhaust his appeals before the ethics committee begins expulsion hearings, according to the Historical Office of the Senate.
Talking Points Memo has been all over this story since the beginning and they are a good source to explain what this mess is and how Stevens got himself into it.
Nationally, the implications are pretty simple. Stevens was in a tough reelection race to begin with after the indictment. Now that he’s been convicted a week before Election Day, the GOP can’t put a replacement on the ticket and odds are he is going to lose. If he loses, that puts the Democrats one seat closer to the 60-seat supermajority. However, sentencing is not until January of next year and a lot can happen in 3 months.
Here’s a remote scenario for you (hat tip to kos) by which Republicans might still be able to hang on to his Senate seat: If Stevens manages to win re-election, McCain loses next week, and Stevens is expelled or resigns from the Senate after exhausting the appeals process,
Sarah Palin can pick a replacement to fill out his term and keep the seat in Republican hands. Correction: According to the New York Times, Palin would most likely call a special election to find someone to replace Stevens. If this happens, I think it would give the Republicans a better shot of retaining the seat.
Unlikely, but possible.
Update: According to this analysis by The Hill, Ted Stevens was his own worst enemy on the witness stand.
Update III: The New York Times mentions another intriguing possibility for Stevens – getting a presidential pardon or a commutation of his sentence before George W. Bush leaves office in January.