Here's the text of the letter, dated Jan. 7, from Sen. Lisa Murkowski to President Bush seeking a pardon for former Sen. Ted Stevens. It was provided by Murkowski's office on Tuesday. Story here.
January 7, 2009
Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution empowers you to grant pardons for offenses against the United States. This power has been characterized as broad and unfettered. I ask that you exercise this constitutional authority to fully and unconditionally pardon my colleague, Senator Ted Stevens.
Ordinarily a pardon request originates with the individual who is seeking the pardon. Senator Stevens has indicated that he does not intend to seek a pardon. I am pursuing this request, on my own initiative, in the interest of justice and out of compassion for a man who has served our Nation and the State of Alaska with great distinction for all of his adult life.
On the matter of justice, Senator Stevens insisted on a speedy trial in the hope that his name could be cleared before last November’s election. His faith in our Constitution led him to believe that our system would deliver an impeccably fair trial in a narrow slice of time. US District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who presided over Senator Stevens’ trial, publicly expressed that this was his goal as well.
Senator Stevens’ motion to be tried in his home state before a jury of his peers was denied. His trial in the US District Court for the District of Columbia was riddled with irregularities that were fully documented in the transcript of the proceedings and by the media. In the face of a strong reprimand from Judge Sullivan the prosecution team was required to report irregularities in the disclosure of potentially exculpatory evidence to the Office of Professional Responsibility of the US Department of Justice. It seems that every week since the District Court proceedings concluded the newspapers identify a new irregularity in the trial or the conduct of the prosecution.
Senator Stevens’ defense team regarded these irregularities, individually and cumulatively, as highly prejudicial to a fair trial and a just outcome. Given the gravity and materiality of the trial irregularities it is understandable that Senator Stevens’ would ask Judge Sullivan to order a new trial, or in the alternative, pursue an appeal.
Senator Stevens’ efforts to protect his rights might cause some to suggest it is premature to consider a pardon. In this instance I submit that the equities weigh heavily in favor of a pardon. Senator Stevens is 85 years old. Further proceedings in the courts will be lengthy and costly. It is not unreasonable to suggest that they could dominate Senator Stevens’ attention for the remainder of his life.
I believe, as I think many Alaskans would, that this is a shame. Nearly 148,000 Alaskans expressed their view last November that Senator Stevens should remain in office while he works to clear his name. Nearly 152,000 voted to send a new Senator to Washington, DC. Senator Stevens has accepted this outcome with grace. Senator Begich has expressed his viewpoint that Senator Stevens should not be incarcerated in the event that he cannot successfully clear himself of the charges.
I would prefer to see Senator Stevens’ devote his remaining years to chronicling his extraordinary life of public service for the benefit of generations to come than continue to pursue justice in an adversarial environment.
Alaska is wrapping up the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of its admission to statehood. Senator Stevens, as a young attorney in the Department of the Interior, emerged as the Eisenhower administration’s point person on statehood. Others might have stopped there and pursued private sector opportunities. Senator Stevens instead chose to devote his entire career to public service representing the people of Alaska. As a consequence of this decision, Senator Stevens is regarded as the single most influential figure in shaping the history of our forty-ninth state over the past fifty years.
Over the course of his forty years in the Senate many will say Senator Stevens gave his all to ensure that the federal government lived up to its commitments to Alaska. In reality, he worked even harder to ensure that Alaska could live up to its commitments to all of America. He was the leading force in pursuing the 1971 settlement of the land claims of Alaska Natives which enabled construction of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System to proceed. He was the leading force in moving the Trans Alaska Pipeline System Authorization Act to President Nixon’s desk in 1973. During the energy crises that followed the Iranian Revolution in 1979 our Nation could count on a secure domestic supply of Alaska North Slope crude oil thanks in no small part to the efforts of Senator Stevens.
Less well known are Senator Stevens’ successful efforts to maintain America’s sovereignty over its fisheries, many of which lie offshore Alaska. Before Senator Stevens joined with his colleague, Senator Warren Magnuson of Washington, to enact the Fisheries Conservation and Management Act of 1976, America’s fisheries were heavily overfished by foreign fleets. This legislation, which came to be known as the Magnuson-Stevens Act, helped put America back in the fishing industry.
It was at Ted Stevens' insistence that the United States negotiated an agreement to stop illegal fishing in the international waters of the Bering Sea. This agreement has restored the Alaska pollock fishery from near collapse. He has been an absolute champion of ocean conservation. He pushed the United Nations to ban high seas drift net fishing, a practice that was devastating our salmon fisheries. These are but a few examples of Senator Stevens’ conservation legacy. The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act is another.
Senator Stevens is also known for his support of public broadcasting, which earned him two national awards, and his undying commitment to the Olympic movement and amateur athletics. His longstanding efforts to improve the third world living conditions that plague Alaska’s first peoples living in the traditional villages of rural Alaska earn him a place among America’s most compassionate conservatives.
On behalf of the people of Alaska, and in recognition of Senator Stevens’ significant contributions to our freedoms, our economy and the quality of life that our Nation enjoys, I appreciate your consideration of this request.
United States Senator