Stevens' campaign spokesman Aaron Saunders says the senator is "very encouraged" by the quick trial date and unusually efficient court scheduling that will enable either a guilty or not guilty verdict before the November election.
Earlier today, Stevens pleaded not guilty in federal court to seven counts of filing false information in his Senate financial disclosure reports. Prosecutors have alleged that Stevens received $250,000 worth of services and gifts from Veco Corp., the Alaskan oil services firm. A trial date has been set for Sept. 24.
But while a cloud hangs over Stevens in Washington, his campaign says it has received hundreds of e-mails of support, urging him to fight the charges.
“Senator Stevens has proclaimed his innocence and has sought a speedy trial," Saunders said. "Today’s decision in Washington, D.C.. is very encouraging. It is clear that the trial will begin and conclude prior to the general election. This means that the Senator’s innocence will be confirmed before Alaskans go to the ballot box in November.”
The Department of Justice prosecutors, who laid out in great detail a seven year "scheme" of concealing free services and home improvement from Veco, obviously think they've got enough evidence to convict Stevens. Prosecutor Brenda Morris said Thursday in court that there is electronic evidence, including both video and audio surveillance, that will be included in the trial.
But Stevens' campaign is going full steam ahead, believing the trial will end quickly and the 84 year old senator will return to the Senate for another term.
“The campaign’s focus is on winning the primary [Aug. 26], and Senator Stevens’ plans in August are moving forward as originally scheduled.," Saunders said. "The senator will spend the month traveling around the state, meeting with constituents, discussing issues important to Alaska families, and holding fundraisers."