Tuesday, July 24, 2007

ALASKA POLITICS HEATING UP AS BOTH YOUNG AND STEVENS BECOME MORE MIRED IN CORRUPTION INVESTIGATIONS

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Both of Alaska's uber-corrupt senior representatives in Congress, Senator Ted Stevens and Congressman Don Young, have thought they could get away with murder-- or at least anything and everything just short of murder-- because the once proud Alaska Democratic Party has been fairly moribund. But with a new poll showing each is extremely vulnerable to defeat at the polls, they may get opposition-- from the right, as well as from Democrats.

A Republican polling outfit, Basswood Research, conducted a poll last week for the Club for Growth. The first question is open to several interpretations, but none of them are especially good for Ted Stevens.
True Or Untrue-- Stevens Has Done Some Good Things For AK, But After 40 Years In DC, It's Time For A Change?
True    47%
Untrue  45%
  
The Bridge to Nowhere questions-- heavily, even hysterically, pushed by both Stevens and Young-- will give neither any solace whatsoever. So much for bringing home the bacon pork.
Do You Approve of Spending $223 million in Federal Tax Money to Build a Bridge From Ketchokan to Gravina Island, Sometimes Called The "Bridge to Nowhere?"
Approve 25%
Disapprove 66%

Are You More Likely to Vote For A Congressional Candidate Who _______
Cuts spending 71%
Brings projects 17%

The extreme far right Club For Growth isn't certain whether or not to primary either of these codgers. Nochama Soloveichik, the wingnut organization's spokesperson said "Don Young and Ted Stevens have horrendous records and, obviously, it would be nice if we could replace them with real economic conservatives. But at this point we are just keeping our eyes and ears open."

If the Club For Growth gives the word that they'll finance campaigns against Stevens and/or Young, other Republicans eager to join in include former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman, former state Senate President Mike Miller, former state Senator John Binkley, Alaska House Speaker John Harris and state Senator Sean Parnell. None of these Republicans have been indicted yet on a corruption scandal that is sinking the entire state GOP (including, of course, Stevens and Young).

Stevens is likely to be challenged by Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D) and there is a chance that ex-state Senate Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz will take on Young. Diane Benson, a progressive, grassroots Democrat who challenged Young in '06 is also likely to go after the seat again next year.
Just a year ago it was unimaginable that any Democrat could dislodge Stevens, the Senate's longest-serving Republican, or Young, who has held the state's lone House seat since 1973. But that was before the FBI began a wide-ranging public corruption investigation that could ensnare both lawmakers.

The FBI told Stevens to maintain records relating to Alaska-based Veco Corp., the oil services company, and a federal grand jury convened to scrutinize whether Veco officials were improperly involved in a remodeling project at Stevens' home in the resort town of Girdwood.

Last month, Veco founder Bill Allen and another former company official admitted they bribed state lawmakers. Allen is a personal friend and major supporter of both Stevens and Young.

Allen annually threw large pig roasts benefiting Young's campaigns. Separately, questions have arisen about an earmark Young sponsored when he was chairman of the House Transportation Committee that could lead to a financial windfall for one of his contributors.

A poll commissioned by the Alaska Democratic Party and conducted by Anchorage's Hays Research Group in mid-June showed fewer than half of the 401 Alaskans surveyed approved of the job either Young or Stevens was doing.



UPDATE: CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS FOR YOUNG AND STEVENS UNDER WAY

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported that both Young and Stevens are in jeopardy not of losing their seats, but of losing their freedom. Both are under criminal investigation for corruption.
Young is being investigated for his alleged ties to VECO Corp., the Anchorage-based company whose former top two executives -- including former CEO Bill Allen -- have pleaded guilty to bribing Alaska state lawmakers, the Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources, reported on its Web site late Tuesday.

Investigators are trying to determine whether Young or U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens took bribes, illegal gratuities or unreported gifts from VECO, the newspaper reported, citing only “people close to the case.”



UPDATE: YOUNG ISN'T IN JAIL YET, BUT...

This awesome Don Young interactive website suggests that he will be-- long before any bridges to nowhere are completed.

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