By Erika Bolstad
Published: April 2nd, 2009 01:06 PM
Anchorage Daily News (full story here)
WASHINGTON — The head of the Alaska Republican Party today called on Sen. Mark Begich to step down from the U.S. Senate, saying that the state’s voters would have re-elected former Sen. Ted Stevens had they known the U.S Department of Justice would abandon its prosecution of him.
The party chairman, Randy Ruedrich, said that the only reason Begich won his race was because “a few thousand Alaskans thought that Senator Stevens was guilty of seven felonies.”
He added that he thought Begich should step down “so Alaskans may have the chance to vote for a senator without the improper influence of the corrupt Department of Justice.”
Gov. Sarah Palin concurs with Ruedrich and believes a special election is appropriate, said a spokeswoman for Palin’s political action committee, Meg Stapleton. “I absolutely agree,” Palin said in a statement.
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Talk about hootzpah. Beyond the obvious, I have two incredibly knot-in-the-gut reactions to this particular episode of the Convicted-Unconcivted Senator Stevens Election Debaucle.
1. When was it determined the U.S. Justice department is corrupt? Was there a trial? Did i miss it? Does President Obama know? Will there be hearings?
2. When was it determined the governor and leader of opposing parties could ask a seated senator to step down because they think election results of several months prior may have gone differently had curent events been – umm – different?
Senator Stevens was convicted of seven (that we know of) felonies. The fact the U.S. Justice department decided now that there were great holes in the prosecution’s case and he should probably have a new trial does not – in my book – constitute clearing Stevens of the charges brought against him of which he was subsequently convicted. it only talks to the prosecution of the case, not the validity.
It’s rather like watching the parents of a 12 year old caught taking money out of dad’s wallet being let off the hook because an older sibling was caught smoking pot – and the parents only have time and energy to do so much disciplining. Senator Ted would most likely be granted a new trial with a chance at being fully acquitted of the felony charges (were he younger and still in office) but that the U.S. Justice department has more pressing things to do with their time than retry an 85 year old man (who probably screwed the citizens of Alaska for years before he was caught, anyway) who no longer has the ability to repeat those crimes. Umm, unless of course he were to be re-elected.
I’ve read several articles reporting this decision but nowhere did I read the U.S. Justice department found Ted Stevens to be innocent of the crimes for which he was convicted, only that the department feels the original case was mucked up and he probably should have the original indictment dismissed and then have a new trial (with a new improved indictment?) Oh wait not the trial – they don’t have time for that part. So I guess a new indictment would be out too then? Without a new trial, an new indictment would be what – the indictment to nowhere?
Granted my knowledge of U.S. history is sadly lacking, but I’m not at all understanding how the dismissal of an indictment or suggestion of a new trial is a claim of innocence, or how the court of appeals was by-passed here. How did the U.S. Justice department get involved with an appellate court decision in the first place? Do politicians have their own set of courts? Is it like health care where politicians get a better deal?
I welcome any input from readers that will help me get my head around this process.
And Sarah! I am dunbfounded. Asking a seated Senator to step down five months into his term because his convicted opponent may or may not have been guilty of criminal charges. So yes, hootzpah! Todd Palin may wear the pants in the family, but clearly Sarah is still the one who mans the balls.