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Mixed Feelings Unfold After Alaska Senator’s Indictment

Following Sen. Ted Stevens' indictment Thursday on charges of concealing more than $250,000 worth of gifts, two reporters measure the reaction in Alaska and Washington, D.C., and the challenges of the upcoming trial.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    To the folks back home, he is "Uncle Ted." Republican Ted Stevens, Alaska's champion in the U.S. Senate for 40 years, has brought home many billions in money and projects for his remote and sparsely populated state.

    In 2000, he was named "Alaskan of the Century" for having the greatest impact on the state in 100 years.

    SEN. TED STEVENS (R), Alaska: The amendment is not agreed to.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Stevens is also a major influence in Washington. He was a powerful top Republican on both the Senate Appropriations and Commerce Committees, until Tuesday, when a political earthquake hit: He was indicted by a criminal grand jury.

    Acting U.S. Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich described the law Stevens is charged with breaking.

    MATTHEW FRIEDRICH, acting assistant attorney general: Sen. Stevens was required to file financial disclosure forms with the secretary of the Senate. A primary purpose of such forms is to disclose, monitor, and deter conflicts of interest and maintain public confidence in the United States Senate and its membership.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Stevens faces seven counts of making false statements in failing to disclose more than $250,000 worth of things of value he received from an Alaskan businessman and his oil pipeline company, VECO. Those gifts included construction materials and labor on this resort home owned by Stevens.

  • MATTHEW FRIEDRICH:

    These items were not disclosed on Sen. Stevens' financial disclosure forms, which he filed under penalties of perjury, either as gifts or as liabilities, and further that Sen. Stevens did not reimburse or repay VECO or its chief executive officer for these items.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Friedrich went on to make clear that, while Stevens helped VECO, the senator is not facing bribery charges.

    Vowing to fight the indictment, Stevens issued a statement, saying, "It saddens me to learn that these charges have been brought against me. I have never knowingly submitted a false disclosure form required by law as a U.S. senator. I am innocent of these charges and intend to prove that."

    Today, Stevens was quickly in and out of federal court in Washington, where he pled not guilty.

    Stevens' indictment comes as part of broader federal investigation into political corruption in Alaska. The former speaker of the state's House of Representatives, Pete Kott, was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison in December.

    Steven's son, Ben, a former state senator, is also under investigation.

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