Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog group, wants Sen. Ted Stevens, 83, to recuse himself until an FBI and IRS investigation is concluded. The two agencies are investigating Stevens' ties to an Alaska energy company and a lobbyist. The investigation has involved other Alaska lawmakers, including Stevens' son, a state representative.
Stevens, R-Alaska, the longest-serving Republican senator, has not been charged with any wrongdoing. He holds a key position on the Commerce Committee, among others. So far, he has said only that he wants to avoid any perception that he has tried to influence the investigation, and urged Alaskans "not to form conclusions based upon incomplete and sometimes incorrect reports in the media."
"Senator Stevens is entitled to due process and remains innocent until proven otherwise," wrote Ryan Alexander, the president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, in a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "But the standard for holding a powerful committee position should not hinge on the absence of a criminal conviction."
In the wake of the search of the senator's home, Alexander wrote, "it is time for Senator Stevens to do the right thing and step down from his committee assignments."
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