Stevens Indicted! No…the other one!

29 07 2008

Speculation was running rampant about who the next to fall would be in the ongoing corruption investigations by the FBI here in Alaska. The general consensus was that it would be Ben Stevens, son of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, and former State Senate President.

I almost ran off the road when I heard the announcement on CNN. Ted Stevens has been indicted. This is HUGE.

The Justice Department will shortly be announcing the 7 count indictment all dealing with statements that were not deemed truthful to investigators. The announcement will come at 1:20pm EST….that’s in just a few minutes. Stay tuned for updates!

UPDATE 1: The Anchorage Daily News has posted a pdf copy of the 28-page indictment is available HERE. Stevens was charged with 7 felony counts of making false statements. Stevens apparently didn’t admit on his senate financial disclosure forms to receiving gifts totaling upwards of $250,000 (including a new Land Rover, a Viking barbecue grill, and extensive renovations to his home) from Veco. Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of the raid of his Girdwood residence, referred to in the indictment as ‘the chalet’.

UPDATE 2: Just listened to a live press conference held in DC by the Department of Justice.  Here’s the gist.

As a member of the Senate Stevens was required to file financial disclosure forms with the Secretary of the Senate.  The purpose of these forms is to disclose conflicts of interest and maintain public confidence in the US senate.  Stevens is alleged to have received “substantial amounts of material and labor” used to renovate his residence in Girdwood from Veco Corp.  This included:  First floor multiple bedrooms & bathroom & full basement, architectural design, assistance in lifting the residence to add a first floor, electrical, plumbing and framing, the addition of a wrap around deck, a plastic roof, heat tape system on the roof, gutter repair,  and electrical work. In addition were household goods – furniture, a gas range, and a tool storage cabinet.  Also mentioned was exchanging an old vehicle for a new one worth much more. The total amount is $250,000+  These items were not disclosed on forms which he filed under penalty of purgery.  He didn’t reimburse or repay Veco or Bill Allen for any of these items.  This is only the beginning of the criminal process, and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The investigation began in 2004 and covers the years 1999-2006. 7 convictions – Kott, Allen, Smith, Bobrick, Anderson, Kohring

From the Q&A with the press:

He has not been charged with bribery. Bribery requires specific evidence of quid pro quo.

A summons will be issued and he will be allowed to turn himself in, and will not be arrested.  Where and when this will happen is being negotiated.

Stevens was informed when his attorney received a call earlier today.

They wouldn’t talk about sentencing or how Stevens’ age might affect that, nor would they discuss a potential plea agreement.

The final question asked about the timing of the indictment, during an election year, and close to the primary.  The answer? “We bring cases based on our evaluations of the law and when they are ready.”  “Politics should play no part either in charges or the timing of indictments.  Policy has been followed to the letter.”

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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…

 





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?





Ted Stevens – Thrifty and Ethical! (cough)

14 06 2008

Friday’s annual financial disclosure from Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski revealed a few goodies.  Uncle Ted has apparently forked out somewhere between $15,000 and $50,000 in legal fees to the firm Williams & Connolly, presumably for work connected to his ongoing federal investigation. 

While this may seem a pretty penny to most of us (unless we’re lawyers), it begs a question.   Why is Ted “My House Was Raided by the FBI and IRS” Stevens paying a paltry $50,000 or less, while Don Young has so far shelled out over $1.1 MILLION with no end in sight?!  Seems a tad off balance to me.  

Maybe Don didn’t price shop his legal firms very well.  Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld must have seen him coming.  And yes, one of the partners in Don Young’s legal firm is named Gump.  I hope he’s the one that defends him in court.  You can’t make this stuff up. 

So one point to Ted Stevens for thriftiness.  And another point to Ted for paying for his lawyers himself, instead of pillaging his campaign donations like the Don.  How sad is it that I feel compelled to give a member of our congressional delegation ethics points for how he pays for the lawyers defending his own heinous corruption.  Welcome to Alaska.

And let’s not forget Lisa.  While nothing startling was revealed, it’s good that everyone is reminded about the “something’s-rotten-on-the-Kenai-and-it-ain’t-fish” land deal with campaign contributor Bob Penney.  If you recall, he sold her a parcel of land for a fraction of it’s actual worth because that’s not the same as a bribe, right?  Her snit fit after being found out was ‘FINE.  I’ll just give it BACK.  I hope you’re all HAPPY!’ (pout stomp stomp stomp)   Just because she’s less corrupt than the other two clowns doesn’t mean she’s clean.  In the land of the blind the one eye’d (wo)man is king.

When Murkowski was asked about the revision to her disclosure she proclaimed, “We’re completely done with that.”   Really.  Let’s hope others out there don’t share that sentiment.

Monday, Don Young’s report will be out.  Stay tuned…this oughtta be good.

UPDATE:  STEVENS LOSES POINT!…..NOT THRIFTY.

Seems that the disclosure from the Stevens camp reflects only the outstanding liability! (slaps self on head)  The universe is in balance after all.  So we have no way of knowing what the total bill may have been, only what he still owes.  He may be another million dollar man for all we know.  I confess I am relieved to have been corrected by those wiser and more inside than myself. 





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?





Corrupt Bastard Minority Leader Testifies.

6 06 2008

Corrupt Bastard minority leader (read Democrat) state senator Donny Olson testified before a grand jury in Anchorage on Wednesday. You’ll recall he was the only Democratic member of the CBC (Corrupt Bastards Club) to have his offices searched in August of 2006. The other five were Republicans.

Information is scant, and we’re not even sure he’s the target of this particular phase of the investigation. We’re all trying to be patient here, but it’s coming up to the two year mark! By the time this is all over, investigators will have the equivalent of an Associates Degree in corrupt bastardom. Let’s hope it’s not a Bachelor’s Degree.

This may be connected to the rumored Ben Stevens indictment that’s coming down the trail. Or it may not. These days, glimpses of the investigation are like whale watching. Oooo! Look, there’s one! And then it slips away into the murky depths. And so we wait. How long are they supposed to be able to hold their breath, before they have to come up again?





Kohring Heads to Sunny California.

31 05 2008

 

We learned this weekend that ‘corrupt bastard’ and former Alaska lawmaker Andy Griffith  Vic Kohring will serve his time in sunny California.  Convicted of bribery, extortion and attempted conspiracy, he was sentenced to 42 months in prison earlier this month.  Kohring, who said his conscience is “absolutely clear” and will fight his conviction “from his jail cell” still has that sad aura of someone who isn’t quite sure what’s actually going on.  I almost feel sorry for him ….sometimes.  But at least he knows he’s not alone. 

Consider if you will that there are currently HUNDREDS of notable Republican felons and others under indictment in the last 10 years.  You can check out Republican Offenders, an alphabetical listing starting with Jack Abramoff and finishing up with Al Zimmerman.   You can even sort them by crime – Embezzlement, Drugs/Prostitution, child pornography, corruption/bribery, lewd conduct, pedophilia, assorted felonies, and more!  And yes, Vic Kohring is on the list…two spots up from Pete Kott. 

It’s interesting to speculate how the new mailing addresses of these jailed Republican politicians will affect their opinion on the importance of prison reform, and the need for serious reevaluation of the  for-profit prison system.  Because, after all, thinking about the rights of prisoners is so…..librul.  We may, perhaps, be treated with some jailhouse political conversions.  It’s a shame we won’t be able to count on their votes in future elections, though, because….well…felons can’t vote.  Maybe that’s another issue they’ll take a look at.