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Should Ted Stevens, now a felon, quit the Senate?

WASHINGTON - Reacting to the felony conviction of Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, Sarah Palin, the state's governor and the Republican nominee for vice president, said it was a sad day for Alaska and his family, but left it up to Stevens to decide whether to leave the Senate or not.
    But Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, the GOP presidential nominee, issued a statement calling on the major domo of the Appropriations Committee to get out. McCain said the conviction was a sign of the corruption gripping Washington.
    Is the vast difference between Palin's view and McCain's a sign that she is cutting a separate figure for herself should the ticket fall next Tuesday? Or is it simply a disconnect between the two camps.
    The Senate has no rules requiring a member convicted of a felony, even a crime connected with the member's official duties, to resign. Stevens was convicted Monday of seven counts of failing to report on his Senate financial disclosure form $250,000 worth of gifts he received from Bill Allen, former chief executive officer of VECO, and from VECO itself.
        VECO is a oil industry services and construction firm.
        Sen. Stevens has vowed to appeal the result of the trial, which he said was tainted by prosecutorial misconduct, and is free on bond. He returned to Alaska to fight for re-election. Before the verdict, he and Democratic challenger Mark Begich were in a dead heat. On paper, the conviction should grease the way for Begich, but the 84-year-old Stevens has brought back $3.5 billion in special projects to his state which has made him a father figure there. If re-elected, the Senate could bring an action against him in the Ethics Committee, and vote to expel him. Stevens was once chairman of the Ethics Committee.

           --Douglas Turner



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