Former Sen. Ted Stevens killed in plane crash


Former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) has been killed in a plane crash in Alaska. The small plane with nine people aboard crashed Monday night 17 miles north of Dellingham, AK.

It was confirmed Tuesday that Stevens was among the five people who died in the crash. He was 86.

Stevens was Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees the FCC budget and broadcasting legislation, when the Republican Party last had majority control of the Senate in 2005 and 2006. He lost a re-election bid in 2008, shortly after being convicted of corruption charges. Stevens had maintained his innocence and the conviction was thrown out in 2009 after evidence of prosecutorial misconduct was uncovered. 

“Sadly, today we have learned that America has lost a great statesman.  Former Senator Ted Stevens was an American original.  Through his tireless efforts in the U.S. Senate, he was not only a key figure in fighting for Alaska and its citizens, but a man whose energy and talent reverberated into many other areas of American public policy.  From strengthening our armed forces, to forging equal rights for women athletes through the passage of Title IX, to helping connect rural America to the rest of the world through his tireless support of the Universal Service program, the beneficial effects of Senator Stevens’ bold efforts have long been felt far beyond the borders of his beloved Alaska.  My heartfelt prayers are with him and his grieving family along with the additional victims of this tragic plane crash and their loved ones,” said a statement from FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell (R).

Similar statements were quick to come from other FCC members.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski (D): “I was greatly saddened to learn of the tragic passing of former Senator Ted Stevens. Senator Stevens devoted his career to serving the people of Alaska. He was an important advocate for building our 21st Century communications infrastructure. My thoughts and prayers are with all who were aboard the flight and their families.”

Commissioner Michael Copps (D): “After I joined the FCC in 2001, I got to know Senator (and Chairman) Stevens better, and I valued his friendship and counsel immensely.  His oversight of the Commission was always fair, he made himself available for discussions, and his legendary candor was always in evidence.  I saw him just a few weeks ago and was happy to find him looking so well and feeling so happy and relaxed.  We have lost a hero in war, a patriot in the Senate, and someone I was proud to know.”

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn (D): “Although I never had the privilege of working with Senator Stevens, I applaud him for his renowned leadership on universal service policies and his ardent support of public radio and television broadcasting.  I also want to express my deepest condolences to the family and friends of the others who lost their lives in this tragic accident.”

NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith issued a statement mourning the death of his former colleague. Smith served with Stevens during his tenure as a member of the Senate Commerce Committee.

“Senator Stevens was a towering figure in the US 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,” said Smith.

“I was very sad to learn of the airplane crash that took the life of Senator Ted Stevens. Today, we have lost a remarkable public servant and a giant of man,” said Sen. Hutchison. “From the very beginning, Ted was Alaska’s greatest champion. He helped found his state, worked tirelessly to serve its unique needs in the Senate, and continued to be its fiercest advocate for the rest of his life. Along with the state of Alaska and his precious family, aviation was Ted’s passion. He bravely served our country flying planes in World War II. It can truthfully be said that Ted Stevens served our country throughout his entire adult life. He was a true friend and will be missed by all who knew him as a person and a public servant. My thoughts and prayers are with his family,” said a statement sent to RBR-TVBR by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX).

“Senator Stevens’ legacy will be his work on behalf of his beloved Alaska as its long serving United States Senator and his deep love for his family, his staff and his home state.  Cindy and I send our prayers and thoughts to his wife Catherine and his family during this difficult time,” said Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).