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Stevens found guilty on all counts

A federal jury in Washington has found Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens guilty on seven counts of concealing gifts from public scrutiny by not reporting them on Senate disclosure forms. The gifts and benefits track back to the expansion and remodeling of a home in Alaska.

The Oct. 27 verdict spurred calls the next day, a week out from the Nov. 4 national elections, from both presidential campaigns for Stevens to resign his Senate seat. By opting for an expedited trial, the longest-serving Republican senator in American history had hoped to clear his name in time to win the sympathy vote in Alaska from Democratic challenger Mark Begich.

Instead, presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain, as well as McCain vice presidential pick Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, have branded the convicted felon a representative of corruption in Washington. He is closely associated with earmarks or “pork barrel” funding, which he has directed to Alaska in vast amounts over four decades. The gravy train has earned him the moniker “Uncle Ted” in his home state.

At last word, Stevens had berated his federal prosecutors, announced that he will appeal the verdict and headed for the campaign trail. His track record on Alaska Native issues is mixed.

Come what may of his campaign and his court appeal, the consensus of media analysis is that Stevens, a World War II veteran, senator and sometime sympathetic figure at 84, will serve no more than a small fraction of the 35-year combined maximum sentence on all convictions.

The Alaska senate race had taken on national significance long before the Stevens convictions. Republicans are trying to stave off Senate losses that could give Democrats a “supermajority” of 60 seats, an important threshold in several Senate vote-casting processes.

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