Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bad news for the old country

Glancing at Talking Points Memo this morning I see that they have stories on all three members of Alaska's congressional delegation. None of the stories reflects well on Alaska's taste in political representation.

First up we have Senator Ted Stevens. The entire Stevens clan has been under the microscope lately for their close ties to oil services company Veco. In Uncle Ted's case, the problem is that Veco may have paid for the renovation project that doubled the size of his Girdwood house in 2000. Earlier this week Ted offered a carefully phrased defense.
As a practical matter, I will tell you. We paid every bill that was given to us. Every bill that was sent to us has been paid, personally, with our own money, and that's all there is to it. It's our own money.

The contractor who actually did the work on the house, Augie Paone, says the billing process was that he sent all bills to Veco officials who would review the bills and then forward them to Ted. Ted would then send Paone a check from an account set up specifically for the project. No one has yet said whether the amount Ted paid Paone was the same amount Paone billed Veco or who made up the difference, if any. Paone has lawyered up and is no longer talking to the press.

Next we have Alaska's only congressman, Don Young, who, as I have said before, is possibly the stupidest man in congress. This week, Don attracted the attention of TPM by threatening to bite Rep. Scott Garrett, a fellow Republican, who he thought was trying to take money from Alaskan students in an amendment offered to the education bill. Or possibly he accused Garrett of eating his own children or perhaps he was threatening to kill Garrett. Language is not Don's best friend.

Finally, we get Alaska's newest member of congress, Senator Lisa Murkowski. Last December, Lisa bought a piece of riverfront property in Kenai from Bob Penney, a developer connected to Ted Stevens. According to the Anchorage Daily News, the price she paid for the prime recreational property, $179,400, is at least $120,000 less than the property is really worth.

When I lived there, I thought Alaskan politics were the best entertainment value to be had in the state. It looks like nothing has changed.

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