Commentary: At some point Stevens lost his ethical compass

This editorial appears in the Anchorage Daily News on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008.

A jury of ordinary citizens has rendered its verdict: No one, not even Ted Stevens, the Alaskan of the Century, is above the law. If a powerful politician is going to collect a steady stream of gifts and home improvements from a powerful lobbyist, he must report them as the law requires.

The public had a right to know about the intimate financial relationship Sen. Stevens had with the state's most notorious power broker. Sen. Stevens let Bill Allen rebuild his house and stock it with furnishings — and then hid the cozy arrangement from public sight.

It's a shame to see Sen. Stevens' once-great career end in scandal. No single person has done more to transform life in Alaska than Stevens, the longest-serving Republican U.S. senator in history.

A full list of his accomplishments is too long to recount here. He ensured that Alaska still hosts a robust military presence, despite constant downsizing pressure. Thousands of federal workers here collect a tax-free cost-of-living boost on their paychecks. Scores of rural communities have health clinics, water and sewer projects, airports or docks, thanks to Ted Stevens.

Ted Stevens was there in the Senate when the federal government passed the landmark Native land claims settlement in 1971. He helped push Congress to break a legal logjam holding up the Alaska oil pipeline. He fought to reduce the size of federal parks, refuges and wilderness areas that Congress set aside in 1980 and to create more flexible rules for Alaskans using those areas.

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