Major media outlets including CNN and CBS are now confirming that former Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), who represented Alaska in the U.S. Senate from 1968 to 2009, has died in a plane crash near Dillingham, Alaska. He was 86. Also in the aircraft were former NASA chief and current CEO of EADS North America Sean O’Keefe and seven others. According to reports from rescuers, at least five people on the plane were killed. Details about the cause of the crash and the disposition of the other passengers are currently unavailable.

Stevens, who survived a plane crash in December 1978 that took the life of his first wife Ann, was the longest-serving Republican Senator and held several leadership positions during his tenure, including president pro-tempore and Majority Whip. In 2008, he was charged with making false statements on Senate disclosure forms for failing to disclose gifts received from VECO, an Alaskan oil services company. Stevens, amid the controversy, narrowly lost his 2008 bid for reelection to Senator Mark Begich (D-AK).

In early 2009, President Barack Obama’s (D) administration requested that Stevens’s charges be dismissed and his conviction vacated due to prosecutorial misconduct; the request was granted by the court in April 2009.

Editorial Note: My wife Melissa is an employee of CH2M Hill, which acquired VECO in September 2007. The alleged incidents occurred before the acquisition, and Melissa works in a different operating division of the company.