Government Law

Alaska Seeks Hatch Act Probe in Stevens Case, Supports Possible Tort Claim

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Opening a new chapter in the ongoing debacle over the federal government’s stunningly unsuccessful prosecution of then-Sen. Ted Stevens for corruption, the legislature of his home state of Alaska today overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for further investigation of potential election law violations and demanding that the federal government give Stevens a right to sue for damages.

Saying that actions by “federal employees involved with Senator Stevens’ prosecution” may have violated Hatch Act prohibitions against government employees using their official powers to influence election results, the legislature called for a federal investigation and punishment, if government employees are determined to have been guilty of Hatch Act violations, reports the Alaska Politics Blog of the Anchorage Daily News.

The resolution also calls for the federal government to apologize to the state and to Stevens–and to consent, as is required under the Federal Tort Claims Act for such litigation against the government, to be sued for damages by the former U.S. senator. His initial conviction in the corruption case is widely credited with the longtime Republican lawmaker’s narrow loss in the November election.

Yesterday, Stevens’ conviction was reversed at the request of the Justice Department and a federal judge in Washington, D.C., at the same time appointed a special prosecutor to investigate a potential criminal obstruction of justice case against the federal prosecutors involved in the Stevens prosecution.

The case has sparked a number of calls for improved training and oversight of prosecutors throughout the country concerning legal ethics standards.

Related coverage:

Washington Sketch (Wash. Post): “For Ted Stevens, Rough Justice” “Special Prosecutor to Investigate Government Lawyers in Sen. Stevens Case” “Holder Names New Leader of DOJ Internal Ethics Unit”

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