Though the houses of Congress will not reconvene for another two weeks, Democratic leaders have already set one item on their respective agendas. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is determined to give the issue major face time.
“We have made it very clear over the years that gifts are not to be accepted in the course of senatorial duty, and by God, we will enforce those rules. A source who wishes to remain anonymous at this time has informed us of serious ethics violations by a member of this Congress. We have been told that reduced-fare plane tickets were given in exchange for favors. Sen. Ted Stevens has gone too far, and we will make sure that this time he doesn’t get off without charges.”
Attorney General Eric Holder has already accepted the case.
“Last time we prosecuted the senator, in 2009, there were issues with prosecutorial misconduct. I am very much aware of that. But I have new people on this case, people who know very well that sending home witnesses and withholding evidence from the defense will not be tolerated, by me or by the courts. With the evidence we have gathered so far, however, I think we can make a strong case against Sen. Stevens. It is absolutely unacceptable that he took those tickets, however scenic the destination might have been – a private fishing lodge with some friends, I believe? I hope he enjoyed his trip, because we’re going to do all in our power to put him in jail for it.”
Democrats from both Houses have expressed voluble support for the move. Town hall meetings with incumbents, organized in large part by progressive grassroots organizations, and news conferences with congressional hopefuls have tended to center around Sen. Stevens’ alleged misconduct. Especially for candidates who are trying to get their names out, the issue has proven to be an effective campaign tool.
But Republican leaders are calling foul on the trend, saying that using a disgraced senator as campaign fodder is crossing the line – especially as Stevens has not yet been formally charged. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been the voice of the opposition on this issue.
“It is a low blow to be discussing this great man’s potential misdeeds before any of them are proven in a court of law,” he said in an interview with CNN. “Sen. Stevens has a clean record in this Congress. I just hope this mudslinging hasn’t ruined his trip. Ted is a great angler, you know, and he was really looking forward to visiting Dillingham.”
In a retaliatory interview, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi took to MSNBC. In a tense moment, anchor Brian Williams posed the question that few seem willing to consider.
“Madame Speaker, forgive me for asking, but isn’t Sen. Stevens technically, you know… dead? Oh, God… please don’t hit me.”