Stevens and Stevens. Like Father, Like Son?

10 11 2008

Just in case anyone wasn’t sure, here’s Harry Reid’s take last night, on convicted felon Ted Stevens’ chances of surviving in the Senate should he be re-elected.

“He’s been convicted of seven felonies,” Reid said on CNN’s “Late Edition.” “He’s not going to be in the Senate.”

The majority leader was a bit more gentle about Stevens’s close friend, Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye (D), who campaigned for the Republican in Alaska during the time-consuming trial and will soon assume the chairmanship of the powerful Appropriations Committee after West Virginia Sen. Robert C. Byrd announced Friday he would be stepping aside.

“I just said Senator Inouye is wrong,” Reid said. “All the Republicans, John Ensign [Nev.], head of the Republican senatorial campaign committee, Republican leader [Mitch] McConnell [Ky.] and a long list of people said that he’s going to be kicked out of the Senate. Of course he is. He is not going to survive.”

(Tangent: So Senator Inouye who is 84 years old, is trying to help Ted Stevens who is 84 years old, keep his job. And he is also replacing Robert Byrd who will turn 91 next week, as the Chair of the Appropriations Committee. Can anyone say “Term Limits?!?”)

Not sounding too good for Uncle Ted. I wonder if he’s secretly hoping to lose, so that he doesn’t have to face the humiliation of expulsion. What a way to end a career of four decades in the Senate. Ouch.

There’s another thing that nobody seems to be talking about much. This may not be the only trouble in Ted Stevens’ future. There’s a whole lot of unanswered questions, and ongoing investigation into some dealings with Ted, and his son, former State Senate President Ben Stevens.

Back in September of 2007, while local talk radio personality Dan Fagan was talking about the legal problems of the Stevenses, Ben was listening in. And Ben decided to call the radio station. Now, keep in mind that Ben Stevens had his Senate office raided by the FBI back in 2006.

Ben Stevens is under investigation by the FBI, the IRS and the the National Marine Fisheries Service, but maintained his innocence and called this whole investigation a “feeding frenzy” and a “blood bath.” The show’s host, Dan Fagan asked him about the Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board, where Stevens and his father’s former top legislative aide, Trevor McCabe, served together while simultaneously accepting consulting fees from the very companies they awarded federal grants. The grants themselves, of course, came from Ben’s dad.

“I didn’t receive anything [while on the board],” Stevens told Fagan. “I’ve got a 30-year relationship with the fishing business. I’ve been working for many companies and many entities and some of that overlapped, but it didn’t have anything to do with what happened on that board.”

Unfortunately for Ben, the facts don’t support his story. Stevens and McCabe founded their fishing consulting company in the last week of 2002, immediately before the marketing board started accepting applications for federal grants. It’s unclear how much money the duo raked in running the company, Advance North, but Stevens listed accepting $775,435 from nine fishing companies on his public disclosure forms between 2001 and 2005.

And how did Stevens and McCabe get these nice seats? The elder Stevens created the marketing board and funded it with $29 million, but Ben claims nepotism played no part in his getting the job of chairman.

“My father didn’t appoint me to the board, Dan,” Stevens said on the radio. “I was appointed to the board by the governor and confirmed by the Secretary of Commerce. The board members elected me as the chairman, not my father.”

He forgot to mention who submitted his name for nomination — that would be his dad.

And yes, Alaskans know all about this one too. They do seem to harbor fonder feelings for Stevens the Elder than they do toward Stevens the Lesser, who stepped down from his State Senate seat to…..wait for it…..spend more time with his family. It was almost universally believed that Ben Stevens would be convicted first. When people heard the news, they kept saying, “Ted? Are you sure it’s not Ben? It’s TED?!?”

So this whole “Failure to disclose gifts on Senate Disclosure Forms” may only be the tip of the iceberg. The FBI works in mysterious ways. Now that the election is (almost) over, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to hear from them again.

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The Veco Corruption Scandal. Who’s Next?

31 10 2008

New information and new names have surfaced in the Veco corruption scandal, that has been rocking Alaska’s political world for the past two years.  Bill Allen, former CEO of Veco Corp. made a deal to trade all the dirt in exchange for immunity for his son Mark, and others relatives involved in the scandal.  He had lots to tell.  Former lawmakers are in prison, and more are on the way.  The biggest fish ensnared in the net so far, of course, has been Senior Senator Ted Stevens, now convicted on seven felony counts.  But the FBI isn’t finished yet.

Newly filed court documents outline the extent of Allen’s initial revelations to the FBI, including his interactions with public figures that haven’t previously been reported — and who haven’t been charged.

In his first interview, the same day he learned of the investigation, Allen told the FBI about financial favors sought by and given to politicians.

Land deals were made, lawyers were hired, gas tanks were filled, floors were refinished, cash exchanged hands, pigs were roasted.

The new documents — summaries of Allen’s initial interview with the FBI and a subsequent interview — were filed earlier this month during the trial of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens in Washington, D.C. The summaries were attached to motions filed by Stevens’ lawyers. The summaries recount what Allen told investigators, and make no attempt to verify his assertions.

The first interview occurred on Aug. 30, 2006, after agents brought Allen into FBI headquarters in downtown Anchorage and he agreed to cooperate. The broad, multi-faceted investigation into Alaska corruption wouldn’t become public knowledge until the next day, when federal agents swarmed legislative offices with search warrants. The FBI had been monitoring Allen’s phone calls for months.

Allen pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy in May 2007.

One of the conclusions reached by Allen, was that Rep. Don Young, who is currently running for re-election against Democratic challenger Ethan Berkowitz, “couldn’t be bought.”  Interesting, considering that after the investigation of Allen began, Young tried to reimburse Allen for more than $37,000 in pig roast expenses for Youn’s annual fundraiser.  Yes, folks, the King of Pork had an annual pig roast fundraiser, paid for by an oil service company.  Perhaps they should have hired a skywriter to surmount the event with the words “INVESTIGATE ME!”   When Allen didn’t cash this belated reimbursement check, Young sent it directly to the U.S. Treasury.  Then he got out a “wet wipe” and tried to get all that pig money off his hands.

Don Young has spent well over a million dollars in campaign money on legal fees….and he hasn’t even been indicted yet.

The other notable name mentioned in the new paperwork is Ben Stevens, son of Ted Stevens.  I remember breaking the news to a couple people when Ted Stevens was indicted.  The response from each person was, “Wait….TED Stevens or BEN Stevens??”  Everybody was expecting Ben would be first.  There’s a lot to cover with Ben, but these documents talk about the fact that Ben was getting paid for a lucrative “consulting” position, even when he wasn’t “consulting.”

Bill Allen told Ben Stevens (president of the State Senate at the time), when he needed money, to bill Veco $10,000 a month.  Stevens stopped sending invoices after his Senate offices were raided.  Go figure.

Think of all this as “scenes from next week” in the never-ending saga of Alaska political corruption.

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Another One Bites the Dust – Cowdery Goes Down.

14 07 2008

Take a week off and see what happens?!  John Cowdery is the latest member of the Corrupt Bastards Club to taste the bitter pill of come-uppance from the FBI raid of Alaska legislators’ offices in 2006.  Has it been two years already?  Almost, according to the “Alaska Corruption Scandal Timeline.” The fallout from that legendary raid seems like one huge, glacially slow soccer game.  We get a goal once every six or eight months.

This also goes to prove that my semi-reliable friend of a friend of a coworker who heard a rumor that Ben Stevens was the next to drop, was wrong… grumble, grumble.  I’ve been on “Ben Watch” since June 1st, fueled by this rumor that his indictment would come in the next 30 days.  But other than the fact that it was 40 days, not 30…and John Cowdery, not Ben Stevens…my source nailed it!

This latest indictment hits close to Senate Leadership.  The crowd is thinning out, and Lyda Green with fewer and fewer buddies around her, is standing in the middle of the field looking reeealy conspicuous.  After the indictment came down, and after finding out that among other atrocities, Cowdery told corrupt Veco executive Bill Smith he thought it would be “easy and clean” to bribe Senator Donny Olson (owner of Olson Air Services)  with gasoline for his airplanes to win a vote on the Petroleum Profits Tax, Governor Sarah Palin asked Cowdery to step down.  (*Note to Mr. Cowdery – Nothing involving petroleum products in Alaska is EVER easy OR clean)

But Senate President Lyda Green would have none of that ‘stepping down’ talk.  She said that she didn’t think Cowdery should step down from his senate seat.  Why?  Take this little Mudflats Quiz.

Q:  Lyda Green thinks that indicted Corrupt Bastard John Cowdery should stay in the Alaska State Senate for the following reason(s). Check all that apply.

a) He is a friend of hers.

b) He’s held that position for a long time.

c) He’s in bad health and hasn’t been there much lately anyway.

d) Give him a break. He’s at the end of his career soon.

e) Sarah Palin wants him to step down so I DON’T! Humph.

Mind-numbing as it is, Lyda’s official rationale, according to her quote in the Daily News includes A through D, but I’m going with All of the Above.

Cowdery is scheduled to appear in District Court on August 11th. 

And “Ben Watch” begins again.  Check out this awesome post from TPMMuckraker.  What will they ever do when all our scoundrels are behind bars?





Ray Metcalfe Gave Me $2 Million Cash!

27 06 2008

 

‘Tis the season for political events, meet & greets, and luncheons with candidates.  It’s always interesting to check out the promotional stuff that circulates around. I thought I’d take an inventory of my political loot to date from events without a ‘suggested donation’, just to see how they stack up.

Diane Benson – Campaign button in my choice of blue on red, or red on blue.

Ethan Berkowitz – Button. One style fits all.

Mark Begich – Bumper sticker, two-sided sign (blue & white), 2 slices of pretty good pizza and a slice of cake.  Not bad…

Ray Metcalfe – 2 crisp $1,000,000 bills!

Each bill features Mr. Metcalfe’s face and “Which Earmark Did You Get?” on the front, with “In Ray We Can Trust” on the back, along with info on Veco, bribery, Ben and Ted Stevens and Ray’s part it investigating all of it. While Mr. Metcalfe won’t be getting my vote, he definitely wins the prize for creativity this primary season, and gets my appreciation for a good laugh. Let’s face it, there’s nothing funny about an Ethan Berkowitz button.





New Rasmussen Poll Numbers for Alaska

18 06 2008

It’s only June, so why does this already feel like a nail-biter?  A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey released today shows another 2 point split between Begich and Stevens in the senate race…only this time Stevens is up.  Still well within the margin of error, but it would have been nice to see a widening split in Begich’s favor.

Today:  Stevens 46%, Begich 44%

Last Month:  Begich 47%, Stevens 45%

View Candidate Favorably?   Stevens 51%    Begich 55%

View Candidate Unfavorably?  Stevens 44%   Begich 36%

Amazingly, Ted Stevens’ favorable ratings have gone up 5% since last month!  Huh?  Amnesia has set in.  We’re delirious from the long hours of daylight.  All that corruption is SO…..last month.  What is it?  This must be stopped….

Hmmmm.  Can you think of anything that might remind people how neck-deep Stevens is in Alaska’s cesspool of political corruption?   Anything that might spark the people’s memories?  (Hint: It’s related to him.)    That’s right, sonny boy Ben!   I’ve been on Ben-Watch since June 1st, when a coworker of a friend of a friend who knows something told me that the indictment of Stevens ‘the Lesser’ would be handed down within 30 days.  That was 18 days ago.   I claim no secret knowledge other than this really somewhat reliable gossip from said coworker of friend of friend in the know…but I’m counting anyway.

It’ll be interesting to see what Rasmussen Reports has to say after the fateful day, and the feeding frenzy of media coverage that is sure to follow.

Tick tick tick…

 





‘O’ My.

2 06 2008

Senate seat O just got a little more interesting… Former Anchorage Assemblyman Doug Van Etten announced today that he’ll be running as a Democrat against junior corrupt bastard, Republican Kevin Meyer (above) for the Anchorage seat. Van Etten got ousted from the Anchorage Assembly by Dan Coffey and the Coffey-Time money machine in 2004.

And deranged wingnut Uwe Kalenka, of Chugach Electric fame will be running against Democrat Berta Gardner in midtown. This guy just won’t go away. On the bright side, this race now has tremendous potential for some real entertainment value!

We’ve still got two hours to go before the filing deadline….anyone else?

Another tidbit…I heard a rumor yesterday that the slow & squeaky wheels of justice are finally rolling up to the door of Ben Stevens. I’m on a 30-day watch. Stay tuned.





I Want My Corrupt Bastard Fix!

12 05 2008

Remember when we had Comet Hyakutake that one winter? Then the next winter we had Comet Hale-Bopp? We loved our comets up here in dark sky country. We got used to them. They became a fixture in our winter sky. Then came the winter of 1997….no comet. I was miffed. I had gotten used to this celestial event, and even after only two consecutive comets, I began to expect it.

That’s how I feel about the Corrupt Bastards Club. They were dropping like clockwork for a while. Bill Allen, Rick Smith, Tom Anderson, Pete Kott, Vic Kohring. We got used to it. It was our indictment-du-jour! Sure we all would have preferred an honest government to start with, but gosh…watching this house of cards tumble has been downright entertaining. And then, a twist – Jim Clark! Hmm….a little surprising. We weren’t quite expecting that one. It’s no Comet Hale-Bopp, but we’ll take what we can get.

So when is the next indictment coming…and who will it be? Who will the FBI ‘vote off’ the political island and into the pokey? The Nenana Ice Classic is over, so who’s ready to bet? We need a Corrupt Bastards Classic. My money’s on Ben Stevens. I’m probably being conservative (how ironic!) and voting on the favorite, but maybe I’ll be surprised.

And, yes, I feel sorry for their families. I don’t have a heart of stone. But there’s something about watching karma play itself out, especially in this dark era of political corruption, that just feels good. Things are unfolding as they should. All is well with the universe. It’s like a salve for my aching progressive brain.

So come on FBI…don’t make me beg! It’s a long time til Hale-Bopp comes back.