Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, still fuming at prosecutors, appeared at a campaign rally Wednesday in Anchorage and told supporters: "Like most people, I am not perfect," according to a report in the Anchorage Daily News. Stevens said he was naive in his friendship with oil services businessman Bill Allen, the primary source of gifts and home renovations that got Stevens in trouble.
"My future is in God's hands," Stevens, 84, told the crowd of 500 people, according to newspaper reports. "Alaska's future is in your hands."
Stevens, convicted Monday in the District of Columbia on seven counts of filing false Senate financial disclosure forms, has less than a week to convince voters in Alaska to re-elect him to his seventh term in the Senate despite a felony conviction that could put him behind bars for a couple of years.
The Anchorage Daily News noted Stevens supporters were wearing T-shirts that said "F*#@ the feds, vote for Ted." The New York Times reported that one person was carrying this sign: "Alaska Decides, Not D.C."
Stevens complained that he did not get a fair trial in D.C. because of alleged prosecution misconduct. His lawyers at Williams & Connolly are urging the Justice Department to investigate the prosecution team for presenting false evidence to jurors and for withholding information favorable to the defense. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan rebuked government lawyers several times during the month-long trial.
"The verdict was driven by prosecutors who were willing to do anything to win. If I had a fair trial in Alaska, I would have been acquitted," Stevens said at the rally, according to the Anchorage newspaper report. Supporters reportedly yelled out: "We trust you!"
Stevens' lawyers failed to convince Judge Sullivan to move the trial to Alaska, where Stevens was likely to get a more sympathetic jury. In fighting the change of venue, Justice Department prosecutors said Stevens committed crimes in the District, not Alaska.
Stevens has been in a tight race with Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, but a new poll released Tuesday showed Begich extending his lead to 8 points. Begich issued a statement after the Stevens conviction that said: "This past year has been a difficult time for Alaskans, but our people are strong and resilient and I believe that we will be able to move forward together to address the critical challenges that face Alaska."