August 1, 2007

Ted Stevens: Model Republican

If anyone is looking for a model of today’s Republican party, look no further than Senator Ted Stevens.

He’s the longest serving Republican in chamber history at an impressive 7 terms, so he’s well loved by his Republican constituents. He’s on the Senate Appropriations Committee, so he is an absolute expert at funnelling money. He funnels tons of it to Alaska, which is #1 per capita in snagging juicy federal bucks.

Alaska gets $1.80 back from the federal government for every $1 in tax money collected from Alaskans. In comparison, Massachusetts is getting a measly 83 cents back on every tax dollar1. Where is those extra $0.17 going? Alaska. And maybe straight to Ted Stevens’ house. Or rather, under his house.

You see, his house was just raided in a federal investigation after contractors pled guilty ot a bribery scheme and Stevens’ name came up as one of the beneficiaries:

Contractors have told a federal grand jury that in 2000, Veco executives oversaw a lavish remodeling of Stevens’s house in Girdwood, an exclusive ski resort area 40 miles from Anchorage, according to statements by the contractors.

The work done was to, get this, lift his existing house up on stilts and build in a new first floor, making the house two stories. That’s right.

Stevens is no stranger to construction, having convinced the federal government to fund the construction of the famous “Bridge to Nowhere2.” In fact, you may remember that he threw a hissy fit in 2005 when it was suggested that, instead of building a bridge to an island inhabited by 50 people who were already served by a brief ferry ride, the money ought to be used to build infrastructure in recently devastated New Orleans. (I don’t want to ruin the ending for you, but instead of defunding the bridge, they took explicit mention of funding the bridge out of the bill and just gave the same amount of money to Alaska… less embarrassing that way.)

You’re innocent until proven guilty, Senator Stevens… as far as the law is concerned. You’re a model Republican. A trusting soul who believes that oil executives shouldn’t have to swear in when speaking before Congress. After all — why would they lie?

The new fiscal conservative Republican: tighten your belt, Alaska needs bridges and Ted Stevens needs yet another floor built under his house.

1 Per Capita Tax Burden and Return on Federal Tax Dollar Table, and Alaska, Virginia rank tops in grabbing federal dollars

2 Americans For Prosperity Foundation posted this YouTube video explaining the craziness of wasteful bridge.

Posted by James at August 1, 2007 1:14 AM
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Yeah. I heard that one yesterday. And both sides of the Senate are shouting the old "innocent until proven guilty" as if all scenarios of accusation are equal. The GOP wants him to stay on his committees and the DEMs are trying not to rush to judgment because many of them are dipping the till as well and want support when they go under the microscope.

To my mind, if you are in a position of power and there is a reasonable appearance of impropriety, you need to recuse yourself while things run their course. There's a difference between an unsubstantiated accusation and a person connected with you pleading guilty to a crime related to their connection with you.

Posted by: briwei at August 1, 2007 10:58 AM

There is no need to rush to judgment on the money Stevens funnels to his home state. No shame, either, when he can argue for that bridge in the face of ACTUAL need elsewhere.

Posted by: James at August 3, 2007 12:43 AM

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