Thursday, July 31, 2008

Stevens Steps Down From Commerce Committee Post

TeBy Radio Ink - July 30, 2008
WASHINGTON -- July 30, 2008: A day after he was indicted on federal corruption charges, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) has stepped down from his leadership posts, including the Vice Chairmanship of the powerful Commerce Committee.

Stevens released a statement declaring his innocence, saying, "In accordance with Senate Republican Conference rules, I have temporarily relinquished my vice-chairmanship and ranking positions until I am absolved of these charges."

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) will take over Stevens' position as Ranking Member of the Commerce Committee. Under a special waiver, she'll continue serving as Ranking Republican Member of the Aviation Committee.

Stevens, 84, is the first sitting member of the Senate to face criminal charges in 15 years. The indictment was related to Stevens' disclosure statements on gifts from a now-defunct oil company, including construction work on his house. His statement said, "I am innocent of these charges and intend to prove that."

The Commerce Committee oversees the FCC, and Stevens has been outspoken on broadcast issues, particularly recently on broadcast decency. He pushed unsuccessfully late last year to bring the Protecting Children From Indecent Programming Act, passed by the Commerce Committee in July, to a vote in the full Senate.

That bill would specifically allow the FCC to set a policy that single words or images can violate indecency regulations. If the Supreme Court decides against the FCC in the Fox TV case on fleeting indecency, that bill may be back in debate.

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