Column: Sen. Stevens says wife controls 'tepee'
"Sen. Ted Stevens, his career and his freedom in jeopardy, did the honorable thing as he went on trial yesterday on corruption-related charges. He blamed his wife.

Yes, Stevens, the first sitting senator to be indicted in a generation, failed to report a home renovation and other pricey gifts from a pipeline company. But, his lawyer told the jury yesterday, it was his wife who reviewed the bills and took care of the finances.

"You have to look at the relationship between Ted and Catherine, because it says something about what happened here," superlawyer Brendan Sullivan declared. In fact, he said, the Stevens family has a saying: "When it comes to things around the tepee, the wife controls. That might seem old-fashioned, but Ted Stevens is old-fashioned."

And rather ungallant.

The 84-year-old senator left his lawyers the unenviable task of explaining away all the goodies he took but didn't report. "He didn't want these things," Sullivan said of the gifts. The tool cabinet? "He wanted it out of there." The furniture? "Used! Big cigarette hole in it." The garage? "It snows six feet a year." The $20,000 worth of Christmas lights? "I suppose Ted Stevens, the senator, should go home and get some climbing shoes on, go up and take them down, and send 'em back?"

Actually, all he had to do was report them to the Senate on his disclosure forms. But instead, Stevens, caught up in a sprawling Alaska corruption scandal, sat scowling and grumbling in the defendant's chair yesterday as he listened to opening arguments that, in a way, echoed the class-warfare themes of the campaign trail. Prosecutor Brenda Morris portrayed Stevens as a man of privileged tastes foreign to the 16 jurors. In response, Sullivan, counsel to Ollie North and Henry Cisneros, portrayed the former Senate president pro tempore as the very model of the average guy."

Get the Story:
Dana Milbank: The Aw-Shucks Defense (The Washington Post 9/26)
Attorney for Stevens Tells Jurors Alaska Senator 'Is Honest,' Did Not Lie (The Washington Post 9/26)
Prosecutor Says Senator Knowingly Hid Gifts (The New York Times 9/26)

Relevant Documents:
DOJ Press Release | Indictment | Press Conference Transcript

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