U.S. Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), awaiting trial on corruption charges, has asked a federal judge if it’s OK if he skips out on the proceedings from time to time this week.
His reason? He says that the trial, in which a jury will decide whether he lied about $250,000 in home construction and other gifts courtesy of an oil company, makes it difficult for him to be a good Senator.
The gobsmacking details, and how it might reflect on Sarah Palin, below the break.
Sen. Stevens claims that with a gigantic bailout deal pending before Congress, which would have a monumental impact on the national economy, he cannot abandon his responsibilities as Senator:
[Stevens] said he understood it might look bad to jurors if he leaves court in the opening days of trial. But his attorney said his Senate duties took priority.
“There’s only one thing more important in his life than this trial, and that’s doing his duty as a senator, particularly in this time of national crisis,” attorney Brendan Sullivan said.
The judge has told Stevens that he may leave court if necessary, but the jury would not be told why, as prosecutors objected that Stevens may not use his absence to cast himself as the devoted public servant. The report says that it’s still unclear as to whether the necessity for Stevens to leave will even arise.
Senator, it’s a little late in the game for the responsibilities inherent in your job to occur to you all of a sudden. Most senators with any shame would already have stepped aside by now…certainly they wouldn’t be running for re-election:
The trial comes at a difficult time in his political career: He is fending off a strong Democratic challenge to his seat and is tethered to a courtroom during the height of campaign season.
Being absent as Congress considers a historic $700 billion bailout of the financial market could make it look like the corruption charges have made it impossible for Stevens to do his job.
(I’d say Stevens’s bigger worry is that “the corruption charges have made it impossible” to believe that he still has his job.)
Of all the knocks I’ve heard against Sarah Palin, the one that counts most heavily against her in my book is the one that nobody seems to be asking: why hasn’t she leaned harder on this guy to resign? Just last month Alaska’s lieutenant governor, Sean Parnell, barely lost a primary against entrenched incumbent Don Young for Congressman at Large, who beat him by just over 300 votes out of nearly 106,000 cast. He’s a popular man, and she’s a popular govenor. It’s not as though she’s got nobody to replace him as an appointment.
For a woman who made her political bones ferreting out corrupt Republican politicians in Alaska and seeing them run out of office on a rail, Palin is eerily quiet on Stevens.