Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Popular Senator Ted Stevens Indicted

Looking out as a citizen, the political landscape can seem incredibly corrupt. Personally I know that speaking out can feel very futile. The amount of money and influence proliferating politics is overwhelming. Yes a vote still means something, but when put up against large corporate money a constituent can be left feeling very small.

In Washington D.C. today a federal grand jury returned an indictment related to false statements Steven's made on his financial disclosure forms. More than $250,000 in gifts are a part of the charges.

Sen. Stevens has been under investigation for his relationship with VECO Corporation, an Alaska oil pipeline company recently purchased by CH2M HILL. According to the Justice Department's Release former VECO executives have pleaded guilty to providing more than $400,000 in corrupt payments to Alaskan public officials.

The senator is wildly popular, he's brought a lot of money into his state, MarketWatch points out that he's the longest-serving Republican Senator in the party's history representing Alaska for some 40 years. Some months ago when I first heard the story it was on PBS's NOW there was some doubt as to whether or not such an indictment would ever be produced.
"Certainly, Sen. Ted Stevens is involved somehow, but whether he will actually be charged with anything remains to be seen."
Stevens announced he will step down from his ranking positions in the Senate for the time being and maintains his innocence. He is up for re-election this year.

While I don't see this as any end to the frustration, for those of us concerned about the rampant corruption, this indictment provides a glimmer of hope that perhaps these actions will not go unchecked, and warnings will not go completely unheeded.

Update: The Crypt blog reports that The Senate Ethics Committee has been under fire for not taking up an investigation on Senator Stevens, with this latest indictment the Department of Justice has allowed for the ethics committee to not take up the issue as they "defer investigation into matters where there is an active and ongoing criminal investigation."

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