A jury found Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens guilty Monday of lying about free home renovations and other gifts he received from an oil contractor. A Capitol Hill reporter details the court's ruling and how it may impact Stevens' political future.
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We take a closer look at the implications of today's guilty verdict with Paul Singer, associate editor at the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call. He's been covering the Ted Stevens' corruption trial.
Paul, let's begin with what the government said and what the jury has now agreed Ted Stevens did.
PAUL SINGER, Roll Call:
Well, the charges, Ray, specifically, were that he failed to report gifts on his annual financial disclosure forms that he reports to Congress every year.
He was receiving, they alleged, major renovations on his home in Girdwood, Alaska, that he was not paying for. He was also receiving a whole bunch of other governments that he never paid for, a very expensive gas grill, a $2,700 electric massage chair.
All of these things, the government alleged, should have been reported as gifts on his financial disclosure forms. By failing to report them, he was essentially hiding things he didn't want the public to know. This is what the jury has agreed and has convicted him of today.
They convicted him on all counts. What level of crime is this? Were these felonies?
Yes, well, the form is a Senate form, but it's actually required by federal law that you fill these forms out and you sign a little thing swearing that everything on here is accurate. And, yes, it's a felony.
Did Stevens take the stand in his own defense? And, if so, how did he explain the presence of the renovations, the artwork, the furniture?
He did take the stand. He spent about two days on the stand. And his argument was essentially this, that the family, the Stevens family, did pay about $160,000 for renovations to a bunch of contractors.
And the other things that were being done by his friends and by this oil company that he was very close to he claimed he didn't know that they were being done.
When he discovered that they were being done, he asked for bills and just never received them. The gifts that came to his home, he claimed he never asked for those gifts. He didn't want them. He asked people to take them away.
The fact that they never went away was not really his fault, he said. They were — he made it very clear that he wanted them to go away.
The prosecution made the point, Senator, you're one of the most powerful senators in the U.S. Congress. How can you not get someone to remove a chair from your house, to remove a grill from your house? It seems hard to reconcile.