The verdict, coming just days before Election Day, adds further uncertainty to a closely watched Senate race. Democrats hope to seize the once reliably Republican seat as part of their bid for a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.Stevens refused to step down from the Senate and is unrepentant. I think the realization that he's going to prison might change that tune, though I doubt it.
Stevens, 84, was convicted of all seven charges he faced of lying about free home renovations and other gifts he received from a wealthy oil contractor. Jurors began deliberating Wednesday at noon.
Stevens faces up to five years in prison on each count when he is sentenced Jan. 26, but under federal sentencing guidelines, he is likely to receive much less prison time, if any.
The monthlong trial revealed that employees for oil services company VECO Corp. transformed the senator's modest mountain cabin into a modern, two-story home with wraparound porches, a sauna and a wine cellar. Stevens never paid for VECO's work.
The timing sure isn't going to help Republicans hold on to their current seats in the Senate, but then again, the Democrats can't exactly capitalize on this scandal with three of their own - Rep. William Jefferson and the $90,000 in cold cash stashed in his fridge; Rep. Charles Rangel whose tax bill is still being tallied after failing to pay income taxes over a period of years; and Rep. Tim Mahoney who admitted to extramarital affairs, but who also may have used sex to solicit campaign funds.
Expect the media to focus heavily on the Stevens conviction, particularly because of the Alaska connection and the hope that they can somehow smear Gov. Sarah Palin in the process, even though Palin fought to rid the state of corrupt politicians, including fellow Republicans.