Former Senator Ted Stevens Killed In Alaska Plane Crash
August 10, 2010 at 12:50 PM (PT)
Former Senator TED STEVENS (R-AK) was among five passengers killed in the crash of a private plane MONDAY night in the ALASKA wilderness, a family spokesman has confirmed to CBS NEWS and the ASSOCIATED PRESS. The flight, also carrying former NASA administrator SEAN O'KEEFE, crashed near DILLINGHAM, AK on its way to a private lodge.
STEVENS, 86, served as Senator from ALASKA from his 1968 appointment (completing the late Sen. BOB BARTLETT's term) through JANUARY 3rd, 2009, after his defeat in the 2008 elections. He was Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee in 1997-2001 and 2003-2005 and chaired the Senate Commerce Committee in 2005-06.
He was a vocal opponent of indecency in broadcasting and supporter of public broadcasting, and was best known nationally for his 2006 characterization of the Internet as "a series of tubes" that could get clogged with information. He also introduced a bill in 2007 to restrict access to social networking sites from public schools and libraries.
A controversial figure for his success in bringing public spending -- considered "pork barrel projects" by opponents -- to ALASKA (over $3 billion in 13 years) and notorious for his championing of the GRAVINA ISLAND BRIDGE project in KETCHIKAN, widely dubbed the "Bridge to Nowhere," STEVENS' indictment for not properly reporting gifts and home improvement funds received from the VECO CORPORATION led to his conviction in OCTOBER 2008 and his subsequent loss in his re-election campaign. On appeal, the conviction was overturned due to prosecutorial misconduct, including withholding exculpatory evidence.
NAB Pres./CEO GORDON SMITH said, "SENATOR STEVENS was a towering figure in the U.S. SENATE and shepherded some of the most important communications legislation through CONGRESS during his tenure on the SENATE COMMERCE COMMITTEE. Broadcasters have lost a friend, but AMERICA has lost a war hero and a legislative giant. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and fellow ALASKANS."