In statement released this morning, John McCain called on US Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) to step down. Stevens was convicted yesterday on seven counts of fraud after failing to disclose free home renovations and other gifts he received from an Alaska oil company. Here's an excerpt from McCain's statement:
Yesterday, Senator Ted Stevens was found guilty of corruption. It is a sign of the health of our democracy that the people continue to hold their representatives to account for improper or illegal conduct, but this verdict is also a sign of the corruption and insider-dealing that has become so pervasive in our nation's capital.
It is clear that Senator Stevens has broken his trust with the people and that he should now step down. I hope that my colleagues in the Senate will be spurred by these events to redouble their efforts to end this kind of corruption once and for all.
AK Governor and VP nominee Sarah Palin did not immediately echo McCain's call. Stevens is currently locked in a tight race for re-election with Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich. As NPR's David Welna noted last week, if Stevens wins, his fate as a Senator is unclear. Stevens plans to appeal his conviction, and the Senate traditionally delays action in such matters until the appeals process is fully exhausted.
UPDATE: MSNBC's First Read is reporting that Palin has now joined McCain in asking Stevens to step down.