Friday, August 17, 2007

MORE Trouble for Ted Stevens

Mickey covered the confrontational visit of Ted Stevens to the editorial board of the Anchorage Daily News the other day. Stevens was... prickly, as he is wont to be.

Wonder if he knew this story was in the works:

An Alaska-based transportation firm that recently hired the son of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) has received more than $300 million in federal contracts over the past six years, many of which came from agencies over which Stevens has direct oversight authority in his current position as ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, federal records show.

Earlier this month, Bering Marine Corp., a subsidiary of the transportation company Lynden, hired Ben Stevens — a former Alaska GOP state Senator — to toil on one of its work boats as part of a support contract the company has with Shell oil company. The job will keep the younger Stevens in the Arctic Ocean for an unknown period of time...

Lynden CEO Jim Jansen has had long-standing ties to Ben Stevens. According to, Lynden paid Stevens $10,000 to work as a federal lobbyist in 1997.

Additionally, Jansen and Ben Stevens both served on the board of directors of the Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board, a nonprofit organization created by Ted Stevens to funnel millions in federal dollars to the state’s fishing industry. The FBI and IRS are investigating both Stevens and the members of the AFMB’s board of directors as part of the widening federal probe.

Over the past several years, Lynden companies have secured scores of federal contracts, according to federal records compiled by Since 2000, the various companies connected to Lynden and the Jansen family have received at least $312 million in federal funding, much of it coming through contracts with the Department of Defense.

The headaches keep coming for the GOP -- as they ought to when they engage in this sort of behavior.

A measure of whether anything is improving under Democratic leadership: their lobbying reform bill doesn't include any provisions to prevent this sort of abuse.

Update: In recognition of the ethics cloud starting to gather around Stevens, the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza elevates Stevens' re-election run next year onto hist list of races to watch:

We never thought we'd write this, but Sen. Ted Stevens (R) appears to be in serious electoral jeopardy. Stevens, a legend in Alaska politics, has drawn considerable scrutiny from a federal investigation into a pay-to-play scandal involving an Alaska energy company. Democrats sense an opportunity and are optimistic that Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, the son of late Alaska Rep. Nick Begich (D), will decide to take on Stevens. A recent independent poll conducted in the state showed the depth of Stevens's potential problems: 44 percent felt favorably toward him while 40 percent felt unfavorably. Stevens, 83, insists he has no plans to retire. If the investigation continues to proceed, however, Stevens may rethink that plan.

One of the lessons drawn by GOP leaders after their drubbing in 2006 was the danger of allowing scandal-tarred incumbents to seek re-election. It both endangers the incumbent and creates problems for other GOP candidates. Whatever happens in Alaska, one can only hope there's no whiff of scandal there next year.

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