You can say one thing for Ted Stevens — he’s got cojones.
Court records that were just unsealed show that the former Alaska senator last summer turned down a plea deal with prosecutors that would have resulted in no jail time.
Reports the Washington Post:
At Stevens’s arraignment last summer, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan asked prosecutors and the senator’s attorney if there had been any plea offers.
Brendan Sullivan, Stevens’s attorney, said during a private conference with the judge and prosecutors that “they did offer us a no jail disposition,” according to a recently unsealed transcript of the conversation.
Later Brendan Sullivan added that the agreement would have required Stevens to plead guilty to a felony. But “we turned them down,” the lawyer said. He also told the judge that Stevens, a Republican, would reject future deals if they were offered.
Of course, Stevens’ likely motive in turning down the deal was that he calculated that a guilty plea, even without jail time, would sink his reelection chances. Still, at 84, he might have been expected to have been willing to accept the end of his political career to avoid the slammer.
As things turned out, Stevens’ gamble looked foolish when he was convicted by a jury last fall of failing to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts from a supporter — then narrowly lost his re-election bid as well. But now that the charges against him have been thrown out, thanks to prosecutorial misconduct, the decision looks a whole lot better.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that Stevens can now practice law again in the District of Columbia. The D.C. Court of Appeals yesterday lifted sanctions against the ex-senator.