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Alaska Democrats Try to 'Retire' Ted Stevens

Alaska Democrats have turned up the volume in their attacks on the leading Republicans in their state, showing their intention to wage aggressive campaigns next fall against Sen. Ted Stevens (R) and Rep. Don Young (R).

Today the Alaska Democratic Party unveiled a new Web site,, that chronicles the various corruption allegations surrounding Stevens, 83, who has served in the Senate since 1968 but now is under federal investigation for his ties to an energy services firm. The unveiling of follows a similar site the state party created earlier this fall,, which details the various allegations against Young, who is under investigation for his ties to VECO, the oil and gas services company whose CEO pleaded guilty to bribery is a cooperating witness for the Justice Department.

The two lawmakers have denied any wrongdoing and claimed they will be cleared once all the details of the investigations are known. And to a large degree fancy political Web sites or Web advertisements are merely recruiting tools by national and state party committees, trying to demonstrate to challengers what sort of support they will be receiving if they run.

But there's no question the allegations are creating mounting political problems for the duo, who have cast huge shadows over the Frontier State's politics for decades now. The storyline has also moved beyond just investigative tactics -- such as a 10-hour raid on Stevens' home in July documenting possible gifts from the VECO executive -- and into the courtroom, where other revelations are now coming out in public.

Last month, at the trial of former state House Speaker Pete Kott (R), Bill Allen Jr. testified that as head of VECO he sent his own workers to Stevens' home outside Anchorage to perform a massive renovation that more than doubled the size of the house. And another VECO executive, who has also pleaded guilty to bribery, testified one of his jobs was to organize an annual fund-raiser for Young. Federal prosecutors played hours and hours of secretly recorded conversations, both on the phone and in a hotel suite regularly used by the energy executives, detailing the legislative deals Allen hoped to secure.

The Alaska Democrats have seized on those audiotapes and are now playing them in radio advertisements generically attacking the state's Republican Party for being too cozy with oil interests. But the radio ads themselves are another attack on Stevens, as they highlight the connections of Ben Stevens, Ted Stevens' son, to the scandal. In the ad, Allen is heard telling another oil executive about his efforts to kill a Democratic initiative on energy tax bills in the state legislature. "Pete Kott and Ben, they're gonna do it so they don't know who it came from," Allen said.

That's a reference to Ben Stevens, who was state Senate president at the time. Allen, on the witness stand in Kott's trial, accused Ben Stevens of taking $240,000 of no-work consulting payments from VECO while he was in the state Senate.

If these Web sites and ads merely are recruiting tools, the main target is Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, who is national Democrats' most sought after challenger to Stevens. Ethan Berkowitz, the former state House minority leader, is the leading Democratic challenger to Young.

By Paul Kane  |  October 23, 2007; 12:28 PM ET
Categories:  Ethics and Rules  
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Is it just me, or are the Alaska Dems jumping the gun a bit here? With the election 13 months away, Stevens/Young have time to retire & their party has time to find appropriate replacements. If the Dems really want to win, they should save their allegations for the real race & not until its too late for the GOP to find credible alternative candidates. In the meantime, Sen Stevens, like Sen Craig, serves Dem interests as active members of Congress in 'good standing' with their party.

Posted by: bsimon | October 23, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

The radio ads aren't necessarily an attack on the Republicans for being too cozy with the oil companies. They are directly about the oil-tax debate that's going on right now in special session in Juneau. A lot of people outside Alaska fail to grasp how upset residents are about the way last year's oil-tax vote was tainted. This disgust about the vote-buying cuts across party lines and philosophical lines -- it's one of those things that has united lefties and hard-core Alaska conservatives, though certain chamber of commerce-type Rs, and even some Ds, claim people are overreacting.
I see these radio ads, which feature an excerpt of ConocoPhillips Alaska President Jim Bowles talking to Bill Allen, as primarily aimed at keeping pressure on legislators meeting in special session and secondarily as building up the state Democratic Party's image as the party that's willing to take on the oil industry. It's not so much about Ben or Ted or any individual Republicans, though that's a side effect. And remember, Ben is about the least-popular guy in Alaska anyway, so it's not like there's any great need to demonize him.

Posted by: alaskan | October 23, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

......."We'd the people would be in JAIL!

Because the republicans stole more than they can carry they can buy the best attorneys money can buy!

Its CRIMINAL what they have done, why aren't they in JAIL??

I guess I see now why American's don't vote, when you have THIEVES living large we'd be in jail!

---Clarence Darrow

Birchfield, VOter, Vet USAF,
Class 2007 East TEnn State University

Posted by: Tommy Birchfield | October 23, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

It's time for the older senators and representatives to be wise and kind and retire. It wasn't meant for their jobs to be for a lifetime.

Posted by: Red Rose1 | October 23, 2007 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Stevens is an immensly corrupt embarassment. If Alaska voters have any common sense, they show him the door. His kind of clubby politics is over.

Posted by: vegasgirl | October 24, 2007 8:49 PM | Report abuse

I don't live in Alaska but have been following this story with glee. I love it when a corrupt politician gets busted,as my own ex-Governor Ryan,and says the exact same things,I categorically deny any wrongdoing,wait until all of the facts come out,yada,yada,yada.
I hope ol' Ted enjoys his jail cell while thinking about that remodeled home he'll never enjoy. Ted/George both deservre what they get,which I hope is a pitful end to their pitiful lives. What disgraces !

Posted by: jime | October 25, 2007 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Hello, nice site :)

Posted by: Brin | December 3, 2007 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Hello! Good site!

Thank you!

Posted by: cash | December 4, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

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