Posted on July 31, 2008
Legal experts are taking a closer look at the charges filed against Ted Stevens and scratching their heads. Is that all they got?
Usually, when federal prosecutors go after a politician, they throw the book at him. Bribery, tax evasion, official corruption, the works.
But with Stevens, they charged him with knowingly filing his financial disclosure forms incorrectly.
For that, Stevens get headlines across the country.
Anybody who knows anything about how Congress works knows that those financial disclosure forms are a big pain in the rear, and that members hate doing them.
You have to inventory pretty much everything you and your spouse have done over the last year, you have to divulge all of the most private financial details in your life, and you have to remember it all exactly.
Lots of members incorrectly fill out their forms. Sometimes members file amendments, sometimes they don’t.
To bring a big federal case on incorrectly filling out these forms is kind of ridiculous on the face of it, especially against somebody like Ted Stevens.
Stevens, love him or hate him, is a true American hero. He is somebody who fought to defend this country in time of war and somebody who fought hard to create a better life for his constituents in Alaska.
He might be hard-charging and at times he might be a jerk, but he is an American original.
The prosecutors need to have a better case if they want to take somebody like Stevens out. Clearly, they don’t have enough to charge him with more serious crimes, like bribery or corruption. They should have waited until they had a better case, or they couldn’t get a better case, they should have just told him to refile his forms with more accurate information.
I certainly hope that the feds didn’t file this case to make a political point. That would be tragic.
The press reaction to the Stevens indictment has also been over-the-top. The newspapers have convicted him in the court of public opinion before they even closely analyzed the charges. It makes for a nifty story-line – those damn corrupt Republicans are at it again – but in this case, the story is behind the story-line is just not that interesting.