Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Following Ted Stevens' Northern Lights PAC

Guest Post: Following Stevens PAC Money
Wash. Post, July 31, 2007

Ethics has been the topic du jour on Capitol Hill today, with the House passing its lobbying reform measure by a landslide 411-8 vote. And the fallout continues after yesterday's FBI raid of Sen. Ted Steven's (R-Alaska) Anchorage home. Stevens and other Alaska politicians are being investigated in connection with a corruption probe. Washington Post reporter John Solomon offers us this item on Stevens's political action committee:

Lawmakers have long used political action committees to sow good will among fellow candidates. So how is Sen. Ted Stevens, the Alaska Republican whose house was raided yesterday in a federal corruption probe, using his Northern Lights PAC?

Well, he doled out $95,000 to colleagues in the first half of the year, including $5,000 to Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), who is up for re-election and just happens to sit on the Senate Ethics Committee. That's the panel that could be called into review Stevens conduct at a later date in the controversy over his Alaska home renovations and relationship with an oil services company called VECO.

[Roberts declined to answer questions about the matter, as did the committee's top Democrat, Barbara Boxer of California, and top Republican, John Cornyn of Texas.]

Stevens also gave $5,000 to Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), another lawmaker whose ties to VECO have also attracted public scrutiny. Other recipients of the Northern Lights PAC's largesse include Republican Sens. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, John Sununu of New Hampshire, James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Norm Coleman of Minnesota. And the National Republican Senatorial Committee got a cool $15,000 as well.

Stevens apparently didn't skimp on treating his donors well, either. His fund-raising expenses listed in his latest report to the Federal Election Commission included more than $200 to an Island Smoke Shop in Key Largo, Fla., $550 in tips to the waiters, front desk and bartenders at Madrona Manor in California, more than $250 to Poker Bargains in Beverly Hills and more than $2,500 to the Pure Luxury Bus company.

To view Stevens' latest PAC report, justclick here:

-- John Solomon