Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More on Ted Stevens, "patronage-distributing warlord"

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Who, as you likely already know, has been indicted. Steve Benen explains:

Looks like the senator best known for his "bridge to nowhere" may be heading down the bridge to jail.

To be sure, everyone deserves the presumption of innocence, but the details of this scandal look really bad for Stevens. The central focus of all of this stems from Veco Corp., an oil-services company, which generously remodeled Ted Stevens' house in an exclusive ski resort area, adding an additional floor to the home. After the lavish renovation was complete, Stevens steered $170 million in contracts to Veco, which, wouldn't you know it, looked suspicious to the FBI.

Complicating matters, Stevens has simultaneously been under investigation for "a series of earmarks pushed through Congress over the past several years by Stevens for an Alaska nonprofit tied to Trevor McCabe, a former Stevens aide and a business partner of his son, Ben, sources familiar with the investigation said."

But here's the kicker. This could actually be good for the GOP.

Stevens is up for re-election this year and he's running behind Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D)." As TNR's Isaac Chotiner puts it: "[T]his is potentially very good news for the Alaska GOP. If there's any way for them to get Stevens to step down so that some generic Republican can run for the seat, that's their best chance of holding onto it."

He's a stubborn guy, though. He won't step down. He'll win the primary and then face Begich with this scandal, and his indictment, fresh in voters' minds. It's hard to believe that his seat would ever go Democratic -- Alaska is a rather red state and Stevens has done his pork-barrelling best to keep it that way -- but this might just be the year.


For more, as Steve suggests, I recommend checking out TPM Muckraker's overview of the Stevens scandal.


TNR's Barron YoungSmith provides the rather colourful background: "Ted Stevens predates the State of Alaska. In 1953, he drove to Alaska Territory in a Buick, and -- like a modern Al Swearingen -- he built himself into a local luminary, successfully lobbied Congress to make Alaska a state, and then used his position on the Senate Appropriations Committee to transform himself into a patronage-distributing warlord."


See all the reaction over at Memeorandum.

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