Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Monday, March 19, 2012

Framing Sen. Stevens gave us Obamacare

The WSJ reports:
Something is very rotten at the U.S. Department of Justice. No other reasonable conclusion can be drawn from an independent report on the 2008 prosecution of then-Senator Ted Stevens.

According to the exhaustive study ordered by Judge Emmet Sullivan, government attorneys engaged in "systematic concealment" of "significant exculpatory evidence which would have independently corroborated Senator Stevens's defense and his testimony, and seriously damaged the testimony and credibility of the government's key witness."

Most damaging to Justice's credibility is that, three years after Judge Sullivan set aside the guilty verdicts against Stevens, the department still hasn't disciplined the men and women involved. Nor has it instituted harsher penalties for future abuses. Attorney General Eric Holder told a Senate committee last week that a separate internal inquiry at Justice is almost done, but he would not promise to make all the results public. ...

Guilty verdicts against the Republican Stevens arrived less than two weeks before Election Day in 2008, causing the previously popular Senator to lose a close race to Democrat Mark Begich. Mr. Begich would go on to provide the 60th Senate vote to pass ObamaCare in 2009.

Virtually the entire case against Ted Stevens hinged on the testimony of the government's star witness, VECO Corporation CEO William Allen. To protect his credibility, prosecutors withheld from the defense evidence that he had suborned perjury in a separate criminal investigation. Nor did prosecutors say a word in court when, according to the report, Mr. Allen offered testimony that the prosecution knew to be false.

The government's seven-count indictment for false statements accused Stevens of accepting free home renovations from Mr. Allen's company and then not reporting these gifts on federal disclosure forms. ...

Stevens died in a 2010 plane crash so he never learned the full story that was revealed this week, nor did he ever get a fair shot to win back his Senate seat.
The underlying problem here was in using the DoJ to intervene in a political matter. Even if Stevens did under-report his home renovations, he should have been innocent until proven guilty, and the Alaska voters should have been able to decide whether this sort of ethical breach allegation disqualifies him from office.

Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich just started serving his 14-year prison term for selling Barack Obama's senate seat, after two trials. I am all in favor of punishing corruption, but as far as I know he was never caught with any illicit money, nor was there any testimony that he was in the process of negotiating a bribe or any other deal. The prosecution seemed political to me.

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