Ted Stevens’ Nevada adventure

The departure of Ted Stevens from the U.S. Senate—his term runs until January, but he has made a departure speech and says he won’t return—recalls a footnote in Nevada political history. On July 4, 1976, syndicated columnist Jack Anderson reported that some members of Congress had figured out a way to get around a 1967 congressional nepotism rule (which barred employing members of one’s own family) by hiring each other’s relatives, with the daughter of U.S. Sen. Paul Laxalt of Nevada hired by Sen. Stevens of Alaska.

When Stevens made his farewell speech last week, Sen. Harry Reid rose to praise Stevens’ personal courtesy in comments that have been posted on Stevens’ still-active reelection website. Reid recalled how, when former Nevada senator Alan Bible died in 1988, Stevens was the only member of Congress outside Nevada to attend his funeral, even though all were offered a flight to Nevada.

“I went, and the only other member of Congress who traveled to Nevada was Ted Stevens,” Reid recalled. “It was a long way to Reno, Nevada … but Ted Stevens went. Why did he go? Because on a very important vote to Sen. Stevens, that made the difference between Sen. Stevens carrying the day or losing the day, Senator Bible stepped forward, as Sen. Stevens said, courageously and voted with this Republican senator. Think about that: Sen. Bible was long gone, hadn’t been in the Senate for many years. He died. But Senator Stevens remembered Senator Bible doing something that he thought was beyond the call of his Democratic duty. And so Senator Stevens and I took this lonely flight … to attend the funeral of my friend and Sen. Stevens’ friend, Sen. Bible. That speaks volumes about the kind of person Sen. Stevens is.”