Word is that Senator Patrick Leahy is on the potential witness list submitted by lawyers for Alaskan Republican Sen. Ted Stevens in the Washington D.C. political corruption trial about to get underway.
Stevens is accused of accepting gifts from VECO, a big Alaskan oil contractor which provided much of the material and labor for work on Stevens' residence in Girdwood, a ski resort town south of Anchorage. In return, Stevens allegedly did favors for VECO by helping it win jobs and grants. Stevens and family members purportedly received more than $250,000 in "gifts" from VECO.
Leahy's possible participation in the trial was news to the senator on Monday, according to Leahy press secretary David Carle. Other colleages listed as potential character witnesses for the six-term Alaskan senator are Ted Kennedy, Daniel Inouye and Orrin Hatch -- all of them longserving senators like Stevens.
Carle said Leahy and Stevens have little in common politically, but that Leahy counts Stevens as a "friend."
"They've long been colleagues together in the Senate," Carle said. "They've worked together off and on over the years and especially as old-school senators try, in their senate work, that if they disagree with each other, do so without being disagreeable."
Stevens is up for re-election this fall. He is supported Gov. Sarah Palin but is lagging in the latest poll behind his Democratic rival, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, 44% to 50%.
-- Sam Hemingway