Will the corruption scandal rocking Alaska affect the future of Washington's "third" U.S. senator, as crusty porkbarrelling Republican Ted Stevens in sometimes known? The federal>"/>
Will the corruption scandal rocking Alaska affect the future of Washington's "third" U.S. senator, as crusty porkbarrelling Republican Ted Stevens in sometimes known? The federal dragnet that has snared oil executives and state legislators appears to be drifting towards Stevens' son Ben, the ex-state senate president. As we noted last year, court documents revealed that in 2003 Ben Stevens held a secret option to buy into an Alaska seafood company, Adak Fisheries, owned in part by Icicle Seafoods Inc. of Seattle. (Adak has had a succession of other Seattle investors, and its ownership was tied up in a court fight.) At the same time that Ben had a buy-in option, his father was pushing federal legislation to establish a special Aleutian Islands fishing area that could supply Adak Fisheries with more than $5 million worth of prized pollock the first two years
Now, according to the D.C. newspaper Roll Call, the senior Stevens has suddenly dropped his support for a related salmon marketing program he created which funneled tens of millions of U.S. funds to the Alaska fishing industry and which is now being examined as part of the Justice Department's probe of his son and an ex-aide to the senior Stevens. Ben Stevens hasn't been arrested but is suspected of improperly accepting oil money (for "consulting" work he won't describe) from Veco, the multinational oil services company and Alaska's major corporate political money source. The watchdog Center for Responsive Politics says Veco employees and their families have, in the past 15 years, contributed almost $1 million to the Bush campaigns and to current and former members of Congress including ex-Washington GOP lawmakers Sen. Slade Gorton ($15,000), Rep. George Nethercutt ($7,000), Rep. Rick White ($3,000), Rep. Jennifer Dunn ($1,000) and Reps. Linda Smith and Randy Tate ($500 each). Alaska GOP Rep. Don Young got more than a quarter-million-dollars from Veco and Ted Stevens got $156,000. Conservatives of course love Stevens; it was only last year that he was still waving photographs of Iraqi military planes found way back in 2003 buried in the sands outside Baghdad, and shouting:
If Saddam Hussein's troops buried one-tenth of their combat aircraft in the desert, who is to say there were no weapons of mass destruction similarly buried!"
Stevens, 84, is now girding up for his eighth and perhaps final re-election bid next year, and will again be raising money in this state; since 1989, Boeing has given $93,500 to his campaigns, followed by major donations from employees and executives of Holland America, Alaska Airlines, Trident Seafoods, Icicle Seafoods, VoiceStream, Horizon Air, Stevedoring Services of America, and Wright Runstad & Co. In 2002, about $436,000 of his relatively modest $3.2 million campaign fund came from Anchorage while $220,000 flowed in from the Seattle area. That's about 7 percent of his funding from here. It's likely however he'll get all the support he'll need in Alaska, where residents take in more than $900 per capita in federal money, about 30 times the national average. Up there, in the land of bridges to nowhere, they happily refer to that U.S. wad as "Stevens Dollars."