« Beginning to Restore our Moral Grounding | Main | Women, War and Darcy »

November 17, 2006

Senator Ted Stevens to Run Again in 2008

CQPolitics is reporting that Senator Ted Stevens announced a couple days ago that he will seek re-election in 2008.  He had apparently considered passing in favor of his son, Ben Stevens, the Alaska state Senate president who did not seek re-election to his state legislative seat.  Unfortunately, his son is part of a group of mostly Republican Alaska lawmakers known to themselves as the "Corrupt Bastards Club".   Gives you a sense of why the FBI searched their offices for evidence of their connections to the VECO Corp., a company that has evidently been paying for favors for contracts with the state. 

When Stevens announced, he was asked about his new status as a member of the minority in the Senate.  Here's his response:

While the election “did not go my party’s way,” Stevens said, “I come out of the campaign more determined than ever to fight for Alaska’s interests in Washington, D.C.”

It's pretty scary to think about Stevens working even harder for the interests of his Alaskan constituents.  The senator to the north is one of the top two or three porkers in Congress.  Luckily it won't be quite so easy to rake it in while he's in the minority.

Here's a partial list of his porky habits:

  • Senator Ted Stevens became chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations committee in 1997.  Since then federal spending in Alaska has nearly doubled.  On a per capita basis, Alaska now leads the nation in the receipt of federal money, at nearly $12,000 for each resident, 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.
  • 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. 

And of course, Stevens is no friend of the Northwest or of the environment. 

  • 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.
  • Stevens introduced a bill to increase oil tanker traffic in the sound; BP who owns the largest oil refinery in Puget Sound, has worked with Stevens to open Puget Sound to more tanker traffic; BP is also a big contributor to Steven's political campaign.

Anyone for trying to defeat him? 

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 17, 2006 at 10:55 PM in Candidate Races, National and International Politics | Permalink

Comments

Although your point is entirely valid, one should use some caution when comparing federal spending in Alaska to the other 48 states. There are several reasons why per-capita federal spending is higher in Alaska that have nothing to do with pork.

First, Alaska has more federal land than any other state by far. Forest service land, Parks service land, BLM land. Native trust lands. All that expanse of federal holdings requires a lot of federal employees and a lot of money to administer.

Second, Alaska has more coastline and more federally managed oceans and marine habitat than the rest of the US combined. The EEZ from 3 to 200 miles offshore is a federal responsibility and so NOAA and the USCG are forced to spend more money and hire more staff to manage and patrol that vast resource than in any other state by far. That includes federal spending on things like weather monitoring, coastal surveys and charting, maintenance of navigation, etc. etc. This sort of thing is of national benefit rather than Alaskan because every single ship traveling between the Northwest and Asia passes right through the Aleutian Islands on the most direct great circle route between asia and the northwest.

Third, a very substantial number of Americans work in Alaska but are not residents of Alaska. The bulk of the offshore fishing industry is composed of fishermen and vessels from Seattle and elsewhere in the northwest. A whole lot of Texans and other Gulf states residents work on the north slope but reside in the lower 48. And a large number of people working in the tourism industry pop up to Alaska for summer employment but return home for the rest of the year. What this mean is that a whole lot of income is generated in Alaska by people who are not considered residents by the census.

So any comparison of federal spending per capita between Alaska and other states is somewhat distorted by these circumstances.

I'm not saying that Stevens isn't a champion porker. Clearly he is. Just that the situation isn't quite as bad as the statistics you cite make them out to be.

Posted by: Kent | Nov 18, 2006 12:08:03 PM

Some very good points. That accounts for a larger amount of money going to Alaska per citizen but I don't think it accounts for the godawful amount of earmarks.

Posted by: Lynn | Nov 18, 2006 4:30:33 PM

Oh, I totally agree. I lived in Juneau during most of the past decade and Stevens is certainly a top tier porker along with Don Young. The earmarks are completely ridiculous and out of control. I remember one instance when over a million dollars went to creating a bus stop in Anchorage. Not a bus station or terminal. A city bus stop to be built outside one of the museums. Now that's some serious pork. The Anchorage Daily News got one of the city traffic planners in an unguarded moment and he admitted he didn't even know how to spend $1 million on a bus stop.

People like Stevens are ruining this nation. My kids will still be paying for this when they retire. My only consolation is that he'll be sitting on the back bench for the rest of his career I suspect while John Kerry takes over marine fisheries and environmental policy.

Posted by: Kent | Nov 18, 2006 8:09:05 PM

Senator Steven's $1.5 million bus stop

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7900977/

Posted by: Kent | Nov 18, 2006 8:12:44 PM

Kent,

Aw yes. I remember hearing about that. Despicable.

Posted by: Lynn | Nov 18, 2006 10:50:52 PM

Post a comment