Ted Stevens, Longest-Serving Republican Senator, Dies in Plane Crash

The Harvard Law School graduate, known for his hot temper and outbursts on the Senate floor, gained considerable political power over the years and emerged as a leading supporter of oil and gas development in his state. He ran undefeated until 2008, when, marred by corruption charges, he failed to regain the seat he had held on for more than four decades.

A powerful force in the Republican party, Stevens occupied many important posts -- he served as party whip for eight years in the 1980's, chaired the Alaska delegation to the Republican National Convention in 1984 and was chairman of the powerful appropriations committee for nearly seven years.

But he was often at odds within his own party over tax cuts and abortion, and took much criticism for putting his state's interests always at the front and directing millions of dollars into Alaska projects.

He also famously clashed with environmental groups over his outspoken support for oil and gas drilling and exploration in Alaska and his close ties to Big Oil in Congress.

In his home state, however, Stevens enjoyed widespread popularity until beleaguered by corruption charges. In 2000, the Alaska state legislature awarded him the title of "Alaskan of the Century."

"I am guilty of asking the Senate for pork and proud of the Senate for giving it to me," Stevens famously declared in 2001.

Ted Stevens Dies

Stevens was a staunch advocate of oil production in Alaska. In 1973, Stevens supported and pushed to expedite the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline that connects Alaska's oil-producing Prudhoe Bay to the southern shipping port of Valdez. In his long career, he pushed for numerous proposals granting concessions to oil companies in Alaska and around the county.

His lobbying for the famous "Bridge to Nowhere" in 2005 divided the Republican party. As chair of the appropriations committee, Stevens directed $398 million in federal funding for a bridge that would link a small town to an island in Alaska inhabited by less than 50 people. But the plan was called off after complaints of pork-barrel spending, even as Stevens threatened to resign.

In the end, the money was still earmarked for Alaska.

While Stevens, with his famous "Incredible Hulk" necktie, became a powerful and influential political figure in his state, his career was marred after he was indicted by a federal grand jury on seven counts of making false statements. He became only the 11th sitting U.S. senator in American history to be indicted.

The indictment charged that Stevens "knowingly and intentionally sought to conceal and cover up his receipt of things of value by filing Financial Disclosure Forms that contained false statements and omissions" regarding $250,000 in gifts of value.

Stevens pleaded not guilty but in October, 2008, just a few weeks shy of the election, he was found guilty on all charges. Eventually, the charges were dropped by Holder but not before the verdict cost Stevens his career.

For the first time in his four-decade plus career, Steven lost his reelection bid and became the first longest serving senator to not win back his seat.

Stevens survived the crash of a Learjet 25C at Anchorage International Airport on December 4, 1978 that killed five people, including his wife, Ann. Stevens had three sons and two daughters with his first wife. He married Catherine Chandler in 1980, with whom he has one daughter.

ABC News' Matthew Jaffe contributed to this report.

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