Sarah Palin: Pallin’ around with a convicted felon?

Much has been made of Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin saying in her stump speech that Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama was someone apt to “pal around with terrorists.”

I’m curious to see what she’ll say about today’s conviction of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaksa, on seven felony counts of making false statements on Senate financial documents about gifts he received from contractor Bill Allen, oil services company VECO Corp., and others.

After all, Palin from 2003 to 2005 was a director of “Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service Inc.,” a “section 527” independent political committee that could raise unlimited funds from corporate donors and was aimed at serving as a political boot camp for Republican women in Alaska. And Palin and Stevens were expressing their mutual admiration as recently as July:

Does Palin believe Stevens, who until today has been in a tight race with Democratic challenger Mark Begich, should resign from office? If he beats Begich — which seems less likely as today’s news breaks, Stevens could stay in the Senate while appealing his convictions; such appeals would have to be exhausted before the ethics committee would move to expel him.

So, if a candidate’s associations — be they past or present, distant or quite familiar — are on the table in this election as Palin and John McCain have repeatedly insisted, how much of a maverick will Palin be today?

UPDATE @ 4:03 P.M.: Answer — not much. “I’m confident Senator Stevens will do what’s right for the people of Alaska,” Palin said in a statement.

UPDATE @ 5:21 P.M.: Christopher Scott Simmonds, formerly of Oakland and now of Rancho Cordova, called in with the astute, ironic observation that Stevens remains eligible to vote in the Senate, yet as a convicted felon is no longer eligible to vote in this election Nov. 4. But Alaska’s early voting began a week ago; who’ll take the bet that he already cast his ballot?

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.