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March 02, 2006

McGavick and the Porky Alaskan Delegation

At a morning press conference today, Mike McGavick talked a lot about Alaska and how important it is to have good relationships with Alaskan legislators.  He said he’d been asked by people in the Seattle business community to go back to Washington DC and meet with the Alaskan congressfolk because our Washington delegation had been so unkind to Alaska recently.  What with standing them down on the ANWR drilling and standing up to them on the proposed increase in tanker traffic, Senator Ted Stevens in particular has been having a hard time lately with Senator Maria Cantwell.

That must have been the bond that made for the “gift” that Stevens gave McGavick today with his announcement that he would not pursue the legislation he’d introduced to expand the facilities at the Cherry Point refinery in Anacortes and thus increase tanker traffic in Puget Sound. 

I doubt McGavick will get any credit for something that never would have passed anyway.

And McGavick’s difficulties with Cantwell? As Goldy has pointed out in his analysis of the latest Elway poll, McGavick is getting no traction with voters in this state in his run against Cantwell in the Senate – in any demographic or on any issue, even those issues that McGavick is running on – being a businessman or being able to mind-meld with the Republicans in Congress.  She remains as much as 30% ahead of McGavick and actually does better against him than she did against a generic Republican. 

The entire press conference this morning was focused on Mike McGavick’s one and only campaign theme of bringing “civility and common-sense” back to Washington DC.  As far as I could tell, that meant playing nice with the guys who get the Gold Metal for looting the federal treasury.

As the head of the BBC once said, “There are people you’d just as soon not like you,” and in my book that Alaska delegation is right up there on that list.

Not only has Senator Ted Stevens been a big baby about getting beat up by Cantwell, but he has also been a baby about letting go of any of the millions of dollars of pork that he has managed to hoard – even when he is asked to do so to provide more money for the victims of Katrina by a Republican Senator. 

I’ve been getting ready to write a post I was going to entitle “Alaska on the Take” so I’ve been acquiring information about our porky friends to the North.  The state of Alaska, under the leadership of Senator Stevens and Congressman Don Young, with a big assist from former Senator and current Governor Frank Murkowski, takes the cake for corruption and nepotism.  Alaska received $1.89 in federal spending for every $1 the state paid in taxes to Washington, according to the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan research organization.

Here are just the highlights for Senator Ted Stevens who has spent 37 years in Congress raiding the federal Treasury on behalf of his state; he is no friend of fiscal restraint and no friend of the Northwest:

  • Senator Ted Stevens became chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations committee in 1997.  Since then federal spending in Alaska has nearly doubled in the past eight years. On a per capita basis, Alaska now leads the nation in the receipt of federal money, at nearly $12,000 for each resident and twice the national average.
  • Alaska also receives more in earmarked appropriations than any other state; Alaska now gets more than $611 in federal funds per capita for special earmarks. (The national average for earmarked pork projects is $19 per capita.)
  • Stevens has become a millionaire by using his position as chair of the committee that dispenses $800 billion in annual federal spending to steer government contracts and subsidies to businesses owned by friends, family members and business associates.
  • And as for being a friend of the Northwest, Stevens “has redirected millions in federal funding away from the study of salmon stocks in Oregon, Washington and northern California, where the fish are endangered, up to salmon projects in Alaska, where fish populations are relatively stable.”
  • Stevens is against the Endangered Species Act, for drilling in ANWR, for the logging of the Tongass National forest and a big supporter of the useless Star Wars defense system being built mostly in Alaska.
  • Senator Stevens’ son, Ben Stevens, has become rich serving as a lobbyist in DC for many organizations and companies that benefit from the Senator’s largess, including the Alaskan fisheries industry, oil pipeline representatives and the Alaska Special Olympics. 

Representative Don Young, has been in Congress for 32 years and is now chairman of the largest House committee, the Transportation and Infrastructure committee and Vice Chair of the Resources committee.  Here’s just a portion of what the man known as the Huey Long of Alaska has pulled in and some indication of what he’s done in conjunction with Jack Abramoff:

  • In one bill this last year that went through Representative Don Young’s Transportation and Infrastructure committee, Alaska received $722 million in earmarks, meaning $1,151 for every man, woman, and child in the state – just from that one bill.
  • In addition, Rep. Young secured nearly $375 million for two bridge projects, Gravina Access project in Ketchikan (the famous bridge to nowhere, the island of Gravina has only 50 people and probably doesn’t need a bridge the size of the Golden Gate bridge) and the Knik Arm Crossing in Anchorage.  Note: when the funds for the bridge to nowhere were withdrawn due to outrage from the citizens down below, the money was replace with $422 million that the state of Alaska can do anything it wants with.  Governor Frank Murkowski, whose wife Nancy owns 33 acres on Gravina Island, says they are likely to still build that bridge.
  • Don Young led a Congressional delegation to the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) for 2 days in 1999 on a trip organized by Jack Abramoff, representing RMI as a lobbyist for Preston Gates
  • Young wrote letters on behalf of Abramoff’s Indian clients and received financial contributions from those same tribes in return 
  • Both Young and Stevens had staffers who went to work for Abramoff
  • Young was chairman of the Resources committee at the time that committee blocked legislation, at Abramoff’s behest, that would have put garment workers in the Mariana Islands under federal labor laws
  • Young used Abramoff's MCI Center skybox in Washington, D.C., for fund-raisers and lower 48 Indian tribes represented by the super-lobbyist gave about $20,000 to Young's campaign committee 

So, back to McGavick.  The question for us Washingtonians is – Why on earth would we want to send someone to Congress who would help our porky Alaskan friends to loot even more from the federal treasury?

Posted by Lynn Allen on March 2, 2006 at 04:30 PM in Candidate Races | Permalink

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Comments

McGavick and Stevens together, now doesn't that just tell you you who a Senator McGavick would be working with? If you believe McGavick's version about how he asked Senator Stevens to drop his "Senator Cantwell Vengeance Bill" to increase tanker traffic in Puget Sound, then you just have to think how a Senator McGavick would vote on a bill to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. You know, like retrun the favor.
But even beyond that, for Democrats and Independents and even some Republicans who don't like the way this country is headed under the Bush Republican Corporate onslaught, just think what another Republican vote in the Senate means. Another step toward overturning the only thing stopping the Republicans from doing even worse, the filibuster threat.
Just think about what another Republican vote in the Senate means if another Roberts/Alito Supreme Court vote comes up. About more corporate tax giveaways, about more money for Iraq adventures, lessening pollution controls, eliminating wilderness and endangered species protections, about less money for education and health care and more tax breaks for the already wealthy. You get the idea.

Posted by: Steve Zemke at MajorityRulesBlog | Mar 3, 2006 9:21:11 AM

If you would like us Alaskans to become less dependent on pork and pay more of our way, let us open up ANWR for exploration and responsible development. Let us have greater access to other natural resources that are bottled up. Many of us are actually concerned about our dependency on pork, since we recognize that Ted Stevens is not immortal and his successor, minus the seniority, will also be minus the clout that Senator Stevens currently possesses.

Regarding Katrina, there were other sources which could have been tapped first before asking us to give up our proposed bridges. There's the countless billions we throw away on our pointless military adventures around the world. There's the millions we throw away on affirmative action race and gender-hustling programs that divide and polarize the country. We also could have recalled some of those ridiculous tax cuts in which 90% of the tax relief went to the richest 10% of Americans. Let's trim fat before we trim flesh.

Posted by: Anchorage Activist | Mar 4, 2006 10:22:31 PM

I have no argument with the waste of money on the military expeditions and the tax cuts for the wealthy. However, I put the extraordinary amount of pork that goes to Alaska in the same category of waste. It is likely to be a moot point in the next few years when the combination of all three - needless war, ridiculous tax cuts and extraordinary Republican pork brings us to our knees as a country.

Posted by: Lynn | Mar 4, 2006 11:45:58 PM

I can't stand Alaska's Congressional delegation, they have a reckless disregard for the young people of America who will inherit the debt from his pointless projects.

Posted by: young_activist | Aug 7, 2006 3:07:12 PM

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