Catherine Stevens to Testify, and Emails to Be Turned Over to Prosecution…

14 10 2008

With the nation’s eyes on Palin and the Presidential race, Alaskans have not forgotten the importance of the other races to be decided on November 4th. Indicted senior Senator Ted Stevens is holding his own in the polls against Democratic challenger, and mayor of Anchorage, Mark Begich. Stevens is an institution who is as much a part of Alaskan history as the gold rush. Frankly, there are plenty of Alaskans who wouldn’t hold it against Uncle Ted even if he did “get a little something extra” for himself. They almost feel he deserves it, even though they might not say it out loud.

The presence of Palin on the ticket this year will bring out many Republican voters who may just cast their vote for Ted while they are there. So, the outcome of this trial is pivotal to Alaska’s chance of sending a Democrat to the Senate.

Here’s the latest on the Stevens trial.

WASHINGTON – Sen. Ted Stevens’ wife, Catherine Stevens, is tentatively scheduled to testify today or Wednesday in her husband’s corruption trial, although the senator’s lawyers haven’t said whether she will.

Stevens himself is at the end of the list, as a potential final witness. It’s not clear whether he will testify either, however, and the judge reminded Stevens – out of the presence of the jury – that he was under no obligation to do so.

“It’s your choice, you don’t have to say anything,” said U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan.

Tuesday morning, Judge Sullivan ruled that thousands of e-mails sent by Stevens’ wife, Catherine, will be turned over to federal prosecutors, who had first asked for them more than a year ago.

Communications between Catherine Stevens and her husband “will be relevant to show the material elements of the charges in the indictment, including defendant’s knowledge, intent, and motivation for concealing the benefits he received from VECO,” prosecutors argued.

They added that “in particular, we anticipate that certain documents at the time of the renovations will reflect that both Catherine Stevens and defendant knew they had not paid for the VECO work, and documents thereafter will reflect that Catherine Stevens and defendant took steps in 2004 to mislead the press when the media was investigating the costs associated with the renovations.”

Judge Sullivan said he saw no reason for prosecutors not to have the documents and ordered Stevens’ lawyers to turn them over.

The 84-year-old senator is on trial for lying on the Senate financial disclosure forms he’s required to file each year. He’s charged with accepting gifts and home renovations worth more than $250,000, chiefly from Veco Corp. and its former chief executive, Bill Allen, who was the star witness for the prosecution.

The renovations in 2000 and 2001 doubled the size of the Stevens’ home in Girdwood, expanding it from a small, A-frame cabin into a two-story retreat with multiple decks, a Jacuzzi tub and a Viking outdoor grill. Prosecutors have been laying out a case that much of the work, including the decks as well as plumbing and a complete electrical overhaul, was paid for by Veco.

In another interesting development, while the legal limit for gifts is $250, the communication the prosecution asked for includes documents relating to anything of value given to Stevens, his wife Catherine, and his daughter, Lily, including “any documents relating to diamond earrings.”

I have a feeling those diamond earrings weren’t the under $250 kind.





Obama – The Last Frontier Strategy

17 06 2008

Chris Weigant at Huffington Post makes an excellent case for what we here in Alaska have known all along. I’ve been squawking for months now about Obama coming to Alaska, and how Begich and Berkowitz would benefit from the Obama bump. (No, not the ‘terrorist fist jab’ kind..the increase in poll numbers kind).

My neck is sore from nodding through the entire post, in which Weigant clearly spells out the advantages of a visit to the Great Land.

  • He might actually WIN here.
  • He would significantly improve the chances for Begich and Berkowitz.
  • He would force John McCain to come too, and stand shoulder to shoulder with Stevens and Young who are not only the earmark kings, but are up to their eyeballs in federal investigations. His only other alternative would be to stay home and let the chips fall where they may.
  • So far Howard Dean’s ’50 state strategy’ appears to be working, and Alaska is actually one of those 50 states.

And come on….would you want to have to work with those jokers for four more years??

Great to see this broader coverage, and that the idea has had a trickle-up effect. Obama camp, are you listening?





Mark Begich is Running Against Al Franken!

16 06 2008

It’s true! The Progressive Patriots Fund, chaired by Russ Feingold, will be making a $5,000 contribution to one of 9 progressive senate candidates running this fall.

The field of hopefuls is: Mark Begich – Alaska, Vivian Davis Figures – Alabama, Erik Fleming – Mississippi, Al Franken – Minnesota, Kay Hagen – North Carolina, Scott Kleeb – Nebraska, Larry LaRocco – Idaho, Bruce Lunsford – Kentucky, and Jeff Merkley – Oregon.

I admit, I had a little pang. I like all of these people….but the gloves are off. This red-blooded Alaskan voted for Begich, and against 8 awesome progressive candidates who deserve it just as much.

I was at a progressive fundraiser recently, and the guy next to me leaned over and said behind his hand, “It’s going to be an expensive year”. Yup.

The Ted Stevens money machine is in full swing, and his war chest is formidable. So this little vote made me feel good about supporting Begich without having to pull out the checkbook again. Cast your vote HERE.





The Bridge from Hell.

9 06 2008

Ah, another Alaskan bridge.

Will the Knik Arm Bridge be our next infamous ‘Bridge to Nowhere’? Seems like we’re taking steps in that direction. The unholy trinity of Rep. Don Young, ex-Senator/ex-Governor Frank Murkowski, and ex-mayor George Wuerch saw to it that the concept of a bridge across Knik Arm (directly to the land at Pt. McKenzie held by various family and friends) got a big influx of cash. And the planning began. They planned and they planned. They got paid to plan, and they kept on planning.

$41.5 MILLION later….

Enter new administration. Words like ‘pork barrel spending’ are heard. People start asking questions. Sarah ‘You Guys are in Big Trouble’ Palin now says the whole project needs reevaluation.

DUM-DA-DUM DUM.

Rats begin leaping from the bridge. First went Deputy Director of the bridge authority Darryl Jordan. (eeeeeee! Splash.) He said that since he believed this project wasn’t going anywhere soon, he thought it would be best to find a “real project”. Maybe getting $130,000 a year to work on a fantasy project was gnawing at his conscience? Right.

The next leaping rat was aforementioned ex-mayor George Wuerch. Before taking his own flying leap, he wrote a letter to Sarah Palin in which he explained, “It’s been a long, slow and expensive process.” Yes, George…we noticed. (eeeeeee! Splash.)

Now, all this may look bad, but we are assured by Mary Pease, spokesperson for the bridge authority, that “the project couldn’t be more on track in terms of trying to tie together the community and the administrative folks, than ever before”. So, we can rest easy. They are on track to try. They are more on track to try than EVER. There’s no way they could be MORE on track to try than they are right now. And, I bet if we keep throwing more money at them, they will continue to remain firmly and squarely on track to try.

Let’s see…that’s $600 million for the bridge…no wait..it’s more like $1 Billion now, plus $25 million a year for each year we delay, plus $200+ million for the Gambell St. access, plus $1.1 million in payroll for the planners every year…minus $130,000 a year for Darrell Jordan’s salary since they’re not replacing him. Ever wonder how much the toll is going to end up being? Will they take credit cards?





Thank you, Hillary!

18 05 2008

Take a good look. This is why we should all be glad Hillary Clinton has stayed in the race. Granted there is a fine line between being ‘a fighter’ and being completely delusional, and there have been times that she has leaped over the line, laughing all the way.

But looking at this picture makes me think again. When was the last time 75,000 people showed up at a political rally for a candidate? I remember…it was NEVER! The inescapable fact is that we actually have an engaged citizenry. I’ll resist the urge to ask, “Where the hell were YOU in 2000 and 2004” and focus on the here and now, which is very very good. Had Hillary called it quits, this would never have been possible.

The picture is mindblowing, and it’s impossible to imagine what the view looked like from Barack Obama’s eyes. I believe he said it best. Even the most eloquent man on the planet was reduced to the opening words, “Wow. Wow. Wow.” Yup, that about sums it up for me.

So…think we could fill up the Park Strip if Obama came to Alaska?





Operation Chaos! (only good)

13 05 2008

As much as I enjoy hearing words like “embattled” when they precede the name Don Young, I’m finding myself a little conflicted. I want him to be embattled, but not too embattled. Here’s why. Recent Hays Research Group polls have Don Young (whose legal bills recently topped the $1 million dollar mark, despite the fact he hasn’t even been indicted yet) trailing his likely Democratic opponent Ethan Berkowitz. Now before you get too excited about this, those same polls have him in a statistical tie with his fellow Republican opponent in the primary, Sean Parnell.

A sticky situation… Yes, Sean Parnell would be a giant step above Don Young, Alaska’s most embarrassing politician, but after what seems like an eternity of Don Young politics, I  want MORE.  Parnell would be more difficult for Berkowitz to beat in the general election, but a Berkowitz vs. Young matchup would be a bloodbath.

So, what to do? First some background, in case you’ve been living in a remote cabin for the last few months. Some time ago, Rush Limbaugh declared “Operation Chaos” and his dittoheads dutifully showed up en masse to vote in the Democratic primary for Clinton, believing she will be easier to beat than Obama in a general election. Devious, and potentially effective in a close race.

So, backatcha.  The gloves are off. Here’s the 3-step plan, if you can stomach it.

On primary day:

  1. Take a big swig of Mylanta, Pepto Bismol, or whiskey. Your choice.
  2. Vote for Don Young.
  3. Take another big swig of Mylanta, Pepto Bismol, or whiskey. Your choice.

Then when he wins, giggle with delight, and vote for his Democratic opponent in November.

Now, there is a little snag here. You cannot vote in the Republican primary if you are a registered Democrat or Green. However, if you are a registered Republican, Independent, Non-partisan, Libertarian or Republican Moderate, then the game is on. Devious, and potentially effective in a close race.

So, let’s not settle for second-worst. We want it ALL! Tell your friends, and let “Operation Chaos” (or perhaps “Operation Kaos” for you Get Smart fans) begin!