Critic Won't Try to Expel Stevens from GOP Group

November 18, 2008 - 6:44 PM
Convicted Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens will remain a member of the GOP conference in the Senate pending the outcome of his re-election bid.
Washington (AP) - Convicted Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens will remain a member of the GOP conference in the Senate pending the outcome of his re-election bid.
 
Stevens critic Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, announced Tuesday he'll hold off on a move to expel Stevens from the GOP conference and strip him of plum committee assignments starting in January. He said some of his colleagues want to see whether Stevens wins another term before voting to sanction him.
 
Stevens is the longest-serving Republican senator ever but was convicted of seven felony counts last month for lying on his financial disclosure forms to conceal more than $250,000 in gifts from in gifts and home renovations from an oil field services company.
 
Stevens may very well not return to Washington anyway as he's fallen behind in an ongoing vote tally for a his re-election bid against Democratic opponent Mark Begich.
 
DeMint said he'll press for a vote on Thursday if the tide somehow turns in Stevens favor and he is re-elected.
 
"After talking with many of my colleagues, it's clear there are sufficient votes to pass the resolution regarding Senator Stevens," DeMint said in a statement. "The question now is timing. Some who support the resolution believe we should address this after the results of his election are confirmed in Alaska."
 
Many of Stevens GOP colleagues have called on him to resign, but Stevens plans to appeal his convictions.
 
Senators can only be expelled after the Ethics Committee investigates and recommends it. It takes a two-thirds tally, but most senators facing expulsion resign before a vote.
 
Removing Stevens from the GOP conference is a far lesser penalty than expelling him from the Senate. Stevens would still have full floor rights but would lose his slots on the Appropriations and Commerce committees next year, if re-elected.
 
Stevens already has been removed as top Republican on the Commerce panel and his ranking position on the powerful subcommittee responsible for the defense budget.