Thursday, November 06, 2008

Alaska Senate: Alaskans OK With Convicted Felon

Let me be blunt: What the hell is wrong with people in Alaska?

Just weeks ago, their Republican-incumbent Senator Ted Stevens was convicted on not one, but seven felony corruption charges for lying on Senate ethics forms and yet at this point it looks like the majority of them still decided the crook should represent them in the United States Senate.

I guess in a heavily-Republican state, being a convicted criminal puts one in the mainstream of political life.

The race is not yet decided with the latest results from the Alaska Secretary of State's office showing Stevens with 48.1 percent of the vote and Democrat Mark Begich, the Mayor of Anchorage, coming in at 46.6 percent.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, the election remains undecided because there are still more than 60,000 absentee and questioned ballots to be examined and counted and, as small as Alaska's population is, that's a sizable percentage of the total vote and the outcome could easily change.

The final count may not come for days and the Elections Division has up to 15 days after the election to count the remaining ballots before certifying the count.

Everyone understands that Stevens is a pork-toting hero to people in Alaska -- the state Legislature even named the Anchorage airport after him -- and that his spot on the Senate Appropriations Committee has allowed him to direct billions of dollars to his state so it looks like even felony convictions won’t try the loyalty of some people.

But the amazing part of this is that even if Stevens manages to get reelected, he will almost certainly be expelled from the Senate immediately upon the 111th Congress convening. It takes a two-thirds Senate vote to kick a sitting Senator out of office and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has made it clear that this will definitely happen.

"The reality is that a convicted felon is not going to be able to serve in the United States Senate," said Reid in a statement. "And as precedent shows us, Senator Stevens will face an ethics committee investigation and expulsion, regardless of his appeals process."

Even the Senate's Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, says Stevens should not come back to the Senate, saying that "if he is re-elected and the felony charge stands through the appeals process, there is zero chance that a senator with a felony conviction would not be expelled from the Senate."

And John McCain said it is clear that Stevens has broken his trust with the people and should step aside.

I suppose we can look at this and say these are the same people who elected Sarah Palin their leader so what can you expect? But for all the rugged individualism Alaskans like to brag about, where's a little thing called self respect?