Reid: Stevens Shouldn’t Get Jail Time
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) tells Politico that he thinks former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) — convicted on seven felony counts of failing to disclose gifts worth about $250,000 from an Alaska energy firm on his Senate disclosure forms — should not serve jail time.
Reid explains that Stevens, 85, is a throwback from another era who didn’t get the upper-chamber’s tougher new rules that have tightened in recent years.
“It’s a different world we live in,” Reid told Politico, “and Stevens did not understand that.”
That’s pretty generous on Reid’s part. While technical rules may have changed, the underlying problem here is that Stevens allowed a local rainmaker with political interests to remodel his home at — at best — a steep discount. He also took other gifts from him, like a high-end massage chair and a new car for his daughter.
Even if Stevens didn’t know that there’s a rule about disclosing this unethical behavior, he should have certainly known the underlying behavior was unethical, if not illegal.
And by all accounts Stevens did know it was illegal. A telephone call caught on an FBI wiretap from 2006 between Stevens and Veco CEO Bill Allen captured the longest-serving Republican saying if the men were ever caught “we might have to pay a fine and serve a little time in jail.”
If there’s an argument why Stevens shouldn’t go to jail, it’s not that he was clueless.