U.S. News

Factbox: Key facts about former Senator Ted Stevens

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former Republican Senator Ted Stevens, 86, whose four decades in the U.S. Senate ended after a conviction on corruption charges which was later thrown out, was killed in a plane crash in his home state of Alaska.

Here are some facts about Stevens, a hot-tempered and gruff former chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee who was a bulldozer when it came to securing money for his state.

-- He survived a plane crash in 1978 at Anchorage International Airport that killed his first wife, Ann.

-- In 2000 he was named “Alaskan of the Century” and had an airport named after him: the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

-- He was first appointed to the Senate in 1968 to fill the seat vacated due to the death of Democratic Senator Bob Bartlett.

-- After repeatedly winning re-election by wide margins, Stevens lost his bid in 2008 after being convicted on corruption charges. The case was later thrown out because of prosecutorial misconduct.

-- In September 2007, his proposed “Bridge to Nowhere,” which became a symbol of out-of-control “pork barrel” spending and government waste, was abandoned when Alaska Governor Sarah Palin announced the state would focus on other needs. The proposed bridge would have linked Gravna Island, population 50, to the town of Ketchikan at a cost of $398 million.

-- Stevens relished his reputation as a hot head. When he succeeded Mark Hatfield as chairman of the Appropriations Committee in 1997, Stevens said, “Senator Hatfield had the patience of Job and the disposition of a saint. I don’t. The watch has changed. I’m a mean, miserable SOB.”

-- He became particularly riled when fellow senators voted against what he considered Alaska’s interests. In a debate over one of his many failed bids to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, Stevens said in March 2003: “I have never broken a commitment in my life. I make this commitment. People who vote against this today are voting against me, and I will not forget.”

-- Stevens backed aggressive defense spending, tax cuts and authorization of the 2003 U.S.-led attack of Iraq. He opposed gay marriage, a federal ban on assault weapons and abortion.

-- Born on November 18, 1923, in Indianapolis, Stevens was raised in Indiana and later in California. He joined the Army Air Corps during World War Two. After returning from the war, Stevens graduated from UCLA and Harvard Law School and then headed north to Alaska, where he practiced law in the 1950s.

Reporting by Tabassum Zakaria and Thomas Ferraro; Editing by Will Dunham