How it is done up North. In December 2006, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) bought a $300,000 property along the Kenai River from a major campaign contributor Bob Penney for $179,400. After the story refused to go away, Murkowski announced in July 2007 that she would sell back the property at the original price.
Meanwhile in 2000 Senator Ted “Slow Toobz” Stevens had renovations to his house doubling its size paid for by Veco Corporation, a privately held Alaskan oil services company. On July 30, 2007, the FBI and IRS raided the Stevens home. Stevens also steered $558,000 to a former aide Trevor McCabe for the purchase of property near one of his pet projects, the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward. This sale is under investigation by the FBI and the Interior Department. McCabe is also a business partner of Stevens’ son Ben a former state senator who is himself under investigation for how federal grants to the seafood industry were distributed.
On July 29, 2008, Stevens was indicted on 7 counts of making false statements from 1999 to 2006 in regard to $250,000 worth of goods and services from Veco and its CEO Bill Allen in exchange for legislative favors:
(a) funding requests and other assistance with certain international VECO projects and partnerships, including those in Pakistan and Russia; (b) requests for multiple federal grants and contracts to benefit VECO, its subsidiaries, and its business partners, including grants from the National Science Foundation to a VECO subsidiary; and (c) assistance on both federal and state issues in connection with the effort to construct a natural gas pipeline from Alaska’s North Slope Region.
On October 27, 2008, Stevens was found guilty on all 7 counts.
Finally, Representative Don Young agreed to return only part of $5,500 in illegal campaign contributions, the part on which the statute of limitations had not run out. Also Young is being investigated for a yearly pork roast hosted for 10 years by Veco CEO Bill Allen which was used to funnel money to Young in exchange for contracts. Allen recently pled guilty to federal bribery and conspiracy charges. In one of Young’s more interesting schemes, he added an earmark for a $10 million interchange in Florida in exchange for a fundraiser that netted his campaign $40,000. This in itself was not unusual. As chairman of the House transportation committee, he was used to getting campaign contributions in states that would benefit from the road funds he controlled. What set this earmark apart from thousands of others is that Young substantially changed the wording of the earmark after the bill had already been passed the Congress. That’s chutzpah.