Republican Senator Indicted for Allegedly Lying on Financial Disclosure Forms

This indictment, needless to say, does not help the GOP's chances of holding onto the seat.

Republicans are fighting a fierce Democratic wind as they try to defend 23 Republican seats, with five incumbents retiring, among them the scandalized Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, the ill Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and the respected Warner.

Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., the chairman of the committee charged with trying to win back control of the Senate, recently said that if he can keep the Democrats to a net gain of four seats, that would be considered a good night. Sen. Chuck Schumer, Ensign's Democratic counterpart, recently told reporters that the nine seats Democrats need for a filibuster-proof majority is highly unlikely, but within reach, if they have a clean sweep of targeted races in November.

Today's Stevens news will only serve to bolster Democratic suspicions that they have a very good shot at winning that Senate seat in November. Alaska has already been on the list of some of the most targeted seats of the cycle.

Ted Stevens is well known in his home state, but in a poll conducted earlier this month of Alaska's likely voters, 61 percent gave him an unfavorable rating. In a match-up against his likely opponent in this fall's election, the lesser-known Democrat Mark Begich, Stevens nearly splits the polls 45-47 percent.

Democrats also see solid pick-up opportunities in Virginia, New Mexico, Colorado and New Hampshire. Both parties will also fight hard in Minnesota, Maine, Oregon and Mississippi.

Democrats, on the other hand, are defending only 12 seats, and most of them appear relatively safe. The only seat currently in Democratic hands that may be vulnerable is Mary Landrieu's Louisiana Senate seat.

"We bring cases when they are ready to be charged, and that's what happened here," said Friedrich, responding to a question about whether partisan politics played any role in today's indictment.

One year ago, Stevens' Girdwood, Ala., home was raided by FBI agents amid allegations that VECO paid for renovations to the home, renovations that included lifting the house up on stilts and adding a floor, doubling the size of the home, which is located at a resort. Former VECO CEO Bill Allen is cooperating in the case against Stevens.

Friedrich noted that a federal public corruption investigation launched in Alaska in 2004. Federal agents executed search warrants at VECO in August 2006.

"To date, that investigation has resulted in seven convictions," Friedrich said. "Among those who have been convicted are Pete Kott, the former speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives; Bill Allen, the former CEO of VECO; and Richard Smith, a former vice president at VECO; William Bobrick, a former lobbyist in Anchorage; and Thomas Anderson… a former Alaska state representative."

Rounding out the group are former Alaska state representative Victor Kohring, who pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the investigation last fall, and James Clark, the former chief of staff to the governor of Alaska, who pleaded guilty to fraud conspiracy charges earlier this year.

The officials said Stevens would not be arrested, but would be allowed to turn himself in. The FBI's J. Stephen Tidwell said at the press conference that "a summons will be issued, and it'll be worked out, what is most convenient for everyone regarding that and regarding the initial court appearance."

ABC News' David Chalian, Matt Jaffe, Julia Hoppock, Peyton Craighill and Stephanie Smith contributed to this report.

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5472829. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5472829. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5472829. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5472829. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5472829.
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...