Did I Mention Bush Is Preparing His Pardon Pen?

John McCain has called on Uncle Toobz to resign (ignoring, of course, that he may be guilty of the same crime himself), Mitch McConnell has piled on, and even Sarah Palin has decided it is safe to take on her mentor.

But the Bush Administration? Dana Perino’s no comment sounds remarkably like the "no comment"s we got just before Bush commuted Scooter Libby’s sentence. 

Will McCain Declare His Gambling Winnings or Follow Stevens Down the Toobz?

John McCain has called on Toobz Stevens to resign from the Senate.

Yesterday, Senator Ted Stevens was found guilty of corruption. It is a sign of the health of our democracy that the people continue to hold their representatives to account for improper or illegal conduct, but this verdict is also a sign of the corruption and insider-dealing that has become so pervasive in our nation’s capital.

It is clear that Senator Stevens has broken his trust with the people and that he should now step down. I hope that my colleagues in the Senate will be spurred by these events to redouble their efforts to end this kind of corruption once and for all.

Note how McCain stresses that Stevens was found guilty of insider-dealing. But that’s not correct. Rather, Stevens was convicted of not declaring gifts on his Senate Financial Disclosure Forms. From Toobz’ indictment:

Beginning in or about May 1999, and continuing to in or about August, 2007, in the District of Columbia and elsewhere, in a matter within the jurisdiction of the legislative branch of the United States Government and subject to the legislative function exception, STEVENS, while a sitting United States Senator, knowingly and willfully engaged in a scheme to conceal a material fact, that is, his continuing receipt of hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of things of value from a private corporation and its chief executive officer by, among other things, failing to report them, as was required, on STEVENS’ required yearly Financial Disclosure Forms.


STEVENS knew the requirements of the Financial Disclosure Forms, and 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 concerning STEVENS’ receipt of these things of value.

All in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001(a)(1) and (c)(1) and (2).

It’s funny McCain should make that mistake, given that he himself appears to be guilty of similar omissions in his Senate Financial Disclosure Form. Despite public reports of McCain gambling–and, at times, winning–large sums, he has never reported his gambling winnings on his Senate Financial Disclosure Forms.

Given McCain’s call on Ted Stevens to do the right thing, isn’t it time McCain himself avoid the crimes Stevens just got convicted of?

Sarah Sends Uncle Toobz to His Room without Any Dinner

Sarah Palin on her mentor Uncle Toobz’ felony conviction:

"This is a sad day for Alaska and a sad day for Senator Stevens and his family," she said on the tarmac at Richmond International Airport. "The verdict shines a light on the corrupting influence of the big oil service company up there in Alaska that was allowed to control too much of our state. And that control was part of the culture of corruption that I was elected to fight, and that fight must always move forward regardless of party affiliation or seniority or even past service.

"As Governor of the State of Alaska, I will carefully now monitor the situation and I’ll take any appropriate action as needed. In the meantime, I ask the people of Alaska to join me in respecting the workings of our judicial system and I’m confident that Senator Stevens from this point on will do the right thing for the people of Alaska," she also said. [my emphasis]

Sounds to me like the purportedly corruption-fighting governor is vouching that Toobz will be on his best behavior going forward, and Alaskans should all trust Sarah to keep him on the straight and narrow.

I can’t help but wonder whether Sarah is thinking about the fact that her own running mate failed to disclose his gambling winnings on his Senate disclosure forms, that she herself was probably saved from an illegal $150,000 gift (in the form of Neiman Marcus togs) by the embarrassment of having it exposed, and that she was recently found to have her own corruption problems in using state government to achieve her own personal vendettas. Oh, and don’t forget the free house she and Todd may have gotten, courtesy of the contractors who built the over-budget hockey rink in Wasilla. 

After all, when you and your running mate are at risk of being busted for the same kinds of things Uncle Toobz got busted for, forgiveness going forward must look awfully smart. 

Down the Toobz: Ted Stevens Indicted on Seven Counts

TV news is reporting that Ted "Toobz" Stevens has been indicted on seven counts of public corruption. (Update: A DOJ press conference is scheduled for 1:20.)

Wouldn’t you know that "Toobz" would go down based on electronic surveillance?

The FBI, working with an Alaska oil contractor, secretly taped telephone calls with Sen. Ted Stevens as part of a public corruption sting it was reported late last year, according to people close to the investigation.

The secret recordings suggest the Justice Department was eyeing Stevens long before June 2007, when the Republican senator first publicly acknowledged he was under scrutiny. At that time, it appeared Stevens was a new focus in a case that had already ensnared several state lawmakers.

The recorded calls between Stevens and businessman Bill Allen were confirmed by two people close to the case who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still under way. They declined to say how many calls were recorded or what was said.

Stevens has two primary challengers, one who just started dumping money into the race and another self-financing millionaire. Update: There are six other Republicans on the primary ballot with Toobz. But the deadline for new candidates has passed, so the Republicans will be stuck with either Indicted-Toobz or one of the other six.

Update: CBS says they’re false statements charges.

A federal grand jury in Washington has handed up the indictment against Stevens — which the Justice Department is set to announce very shortly.

Stevens faces seven counts of false statements involving VECO, the oil services company in Alaska, and the renovations done on his home.

Update from the press conference–and with the indictment itself.  

Acting AAG, Criminal Division Matt Friedrich (he replaced Alice Fisher) said they didn’t go for bribery here bc they didn’t have a clear quid pro quo for VECO. It was more like Stevens was just VECO’s Senator.

Friedrich said they didn’t charge a tax violation bc these were gifts, and you don’t have to declare gifts on your taxes. 

Instead, they charged him generally for false statements, and then with one tied to each yearly financial disclosure from 2001 to 2006.  

“Library” Rhymes with “Bribery,” Ted Stevens Edition

The story of Stephen Payne–who just got canned from his DHS Advisory Committee position because he was selling access in exchange for donations to the Bush Library–makes it clear what a cesspool of political corruption secret and unlimited donations to Presidential libraries can be.

Which is why it is utterly unsurprising that Ted Stevens, a standout in corruption even in Alaska, has placed a hold on a bill designed to make the donations to Presidential libraries transparent.

The argument for keeping the names of donors secret is that some admirers might not want their generosity on public display. But a presidential library is no ordinary charity. It is built with private money and turned over to the National Archives to operate. If requiring disclosure might deter a generous patron with a penchant for anonymity from giving, so be it.

There ought to be a law. Actually, there would be one if it weren’t for Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska. A measure requiring disclosure of library donations — during a presidency and for four years afterward — has twice passed the House. But Stevens blocked the measure in March, arguing that it was unfair to "change the rules" on Bush — even as library officials claim they haven’t really started fundraising.

I mean, I can totally understand how, to a guy like Ted Stevens, asking the President to refrain from selling our foreign policy to the highest bidder would seem like "changing the rules."

Which is why I’m glad the Blue America-endorsed Mark Begich, the guy running to replace Stevens, is making it a campaign issue.

The American people deserve to know who is giving money to politicians at all levels of government, but especially the presidency. It’s time for Senator Stevens to stop blocking legislation that would require fundraising for presidential libraries be done out in the open. This move – on legislation that has already passed the House – is yet another instance where Stevens is choosing secrecy over transparency. He should lift his hold and let the light of day into back into Washington.

It’s hard to embarrass a guy like Ted Stevens. But I’m all in favor of piling on the charges of corruption against Mr. Toobz.