Monday, October 27, 2008

Ted Stevens Guilty. Now What?

If Democrats sweep on November 4, approximately one second after swearing, a flood of Republican money will wash over partisan private investigators across the land to fund the search to find something on the Democrats. At every single level of government. And, if you remember Dan Rostenkowski and Gary Hart, you know that the search will succeed. People are people.

So the first take-away to Democrats is, "Don't crow. Clean up your own house."

The second take-away is this, and apparently it cannot be said too often: Power corrupts.

Stevens was--actually, is, until he resigns or is expelled from the Senate--one of the most powerful Republicans in Washington. The Senate is a place where seniority counts, and Stevens is the senior Republican in the Senate. There isn't much he doesn't know about the Senate--and about his fellow Senators--and, as ranking Republican on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, he is in a terrific position to do a lot of good or a lot of harm to anyone dependent on federal funding. He's been in a stronger position in the past, but the trail of money to his political action committee AND to his home renovation program speaks to his reach and power.

The Senate is also a place where felons can serve if elected. Doesn't that pretty much tell you everything you need to know about congressional ethics?

OK. So now what.

Well, there's this from the Chicago Tribune's Washington bureau:

"Despite being a convicted felon, he is not required to drop out of the race or resign from the Senate. If he wins re-election, he can continue to hold his seat because there is no rule barring felons from serving in Congress. The Senate could vote to expel him on a two-thirds vote.

'Put this down: That will never happen -- ever, OK?' Stevens said in the weeks leading up to his trial. 'I am not stepping down. I'm going to run through, and I'm going to win this election.'..."

We'll see if he wins in a couple of days. If he does win, and if he later resigns or is forced out, how will his seat be filled and by whom? Governor Palin?