The Peregrine Gallery
Sightings from The Catbird Seat
~ o ~
July 29, 2008
Ted Stevens indicted,
longest-serving GOP senator
By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press
Sen. Ted Stevens, the nation's longest-serving Republican senator and a major figure in Alaska politics since before statehood, was indicted Tuesday on seven counts of failing to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in services from an oil services company that helped renovate his home.
The first sitting U.S. senator to face federal indictment since 1993, Stevens has been dogged by an investigation into his home renovation project in Alaska and his dealings with wealthy oil contractors.
The probe has upended Alaska state politics and brought negative attention to Stevens — who is running for re-election this year — and to his congressional colleague, Rep. Don Young, who also is under investigation.
Stevens' indictment further damages Republican prospects in the November elections as Senate Democrats, who now enjoy a 51-49 majority, try to capture a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority.
Prosecutors said Stevens received more than $250,000 in gifts and services from VECO Corp., a powerful oil services contractor, and its executives. From May 1999 to August 2007, prosecutors said, the 84-year-old senator concealed "his continuing receipt of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of things of value from a private corporation."
The indictment unsealed Tuesday says the items included home improvements to his vacation home in Alaska, including a new first floor, garage, wraparound deck, plumbing and electrical wiring, as well as a Viking gas grill, furniture and tools. He also was accused of failing to report swapping an old Ford for a new Land Rover to be driven by one of his children.
The Justice Department said Stevens would not be arrested and would be allowed to turn himself in.
Stevens has adamantly denied any wrongdoing but has said little else publicly about the investigation. Messages left at both his Senate office in Washington and his campaign office in Anchorage were not immediately returned on Tuesday. His attorney also did not return calls.
Stevens has coasted to re-election six times in Alaska, but he is in what has been viewed as the toughest race of his career this year against Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich.
The indictment tarnishes one of the most powerful and savvy of the GOP lions in the Senate a year after another Republican senator, Larry Craig of Idaho, pleaded guilty to charges arising out of a Minneapolis airport men's room sex sting.
Stevens wielded power from his position as chairman of the Appropriations Committee from 1997 to 2005, except for 18 months when Democrats controlled the Senate. His longevity also means that if Republicans took over the Senate, he would be president pro tempore, a mostly symbolic title but one that would make him third in line for the presidency after the vice president and speaker of the House.
Under Senate rules, Tuesday's indictment will require Stevens to give up his post as senior Republican on the Appropriations Committee.
Young, who is under scrutiny for his fundraising practices involving VECO, said Tuesday, "I hope people will not rush to judgment and will let the judicial process work. The process is based on being innocent until proven guilty."
He called Stevens "one of the most effective and honest legislators I have ever worked with."
Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said, "I have served with Sen. Stevens my entire congressional career. It's a sad day for him, us, but you know I believe in the American system of justice and he's presumed innocent."
Among other colleagues, John Warner, R-Va., called Stevens a hero, adding, however, he didn't know details about the indictment. "All of us have times that we have to deal with that are tough," Warner said. "I wish him the best."
Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said, "I've known Ted Stevens for 28 years, and have always known him to be impeccably honest."
Prosecutors, however, said Stevens "took multiple steps to continue" receiving things from oil services company VECO Corp. and its founder, Bill Allen. At the time, the indictment says, Allen and other VECO employees were soliciting Stevens for "multiple official actions ... knowing that Stevens could and did use his official position and his office on behalf of VECO during that same time period."
VECO's requests included funding and other aid for the oil services company's projects and partnerships in Pakistan and Russia. They also included federal grants from several agencies as well as help in building a national gas pipeline in Alaska's North Slope Region, according to the indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Washington.
A moderate Republican, Stevens has served almost 40 years in the Senate, where he unabashedly steered money to his remote and sparsely populated home state. He often drew criticism from outside Alaska for going around the traditional appropriations process to fund projects.
The Justice Department has closely followed that money, looking for where it intersects with the senator's son, Ben.
A lobbyist and former state senator, Ben Stevens was paid as a consultant for many in the fishing industry who benefited from legislation his father drafted. When Ted Stevens created a $30 million marketing fund for Alaska seafood, Ben Stevens helped decide which companies got the money. Some were his clients.
Ben Stevens also had financial ties to a company that stood to make millions off a piece of federal legislation his father wrote. But he repeatedly has said he never lobbied his father.
Politics had nothing to do with the indictment of Stevens, himself a former federal prosecutor in Alaska, said Matthew Friedrich, chief of the Justice Department's criminal division.
"We bring cases based on our evaluation of the facts and the law," Friedrich said at a news conference announcing the indictments. "We bring cases when they are ready to be charged, and that's what happened here."
In other cases involving indictments of senators:
• On April 2, 1993, Republican Sen. David Durenburger of Minnesota was indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington on charges of conspiring to file fraudulent claims for Senate reimbursement of $3,825 in lodging expenses during 1987 and 1988. The indictment was later dismissed. After new charges were filed, Durenberger pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of converting public funds to his personal use. He was sentenced to one year of probation and a $1,000 fine.
• Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas was indicted by a state grand jury on Sept. 27, 1993, in Austin, Texas. She was charged with official misconduct and tampering with evidence to impede an investigation. On Feb. 11, 1994, a judge ordered her acquittal after the district attorney refused to present his case.
March 22, 2000
KELLOGG BROWN & ROOT'S ROSE™ AND FCC TECHNOLOGIES SELECTED BY TESORO NORTHWEST FOR ANACORTES REFINERY UPGRADE
DALLAS, Texas - Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), a business unit of Halliburton Company (NYSE: HAL), was recently selected to provide its state-of-the-art Residuum Oil Supercritical Extraction (ROSE™) and Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC) Technologies for a major upgrade at Tesoro Northwest Company's refinery in Anacortes, Washington. Tesoro Northwest Company is a subsidiary of Tesoro Petroleum Corporation.
Part of an $80 million project, the upgrade will improve the ability of the refinery to run heavier, less expensive crudes while maintaining an almost equal production profile.
KBR's involvement in the multi-million dollar project includes a variety of undertakings. The company will add a grassroots 21,000 barrel-per-day ROSE unit to the refinery while incorporating KBR's advanced FCC technologies to the existing 42,000 barrel-per-day FCC.
In addition to providing ROSE and FCC technology licenses, KBR also will perform basic engineering services, will supply associated proprietary equipment and will be responsible for a portion of the detailed engineering, procurement and construction activities in conjunction with engineering contractors Anvil Corporation and VECO Pacific, Inc.
"This win has provided Kellogg Brown & Root with several great opportunities - the ability to work with a growing refining and marketing company like Tesoro, to link our world class FCC and ROSE technologies, and to expand our current presence in the northwest," said Kellogg Brown & Root President Jack Stanley....
Headquartered in Houston, Kellogg Brown & Root is an international, technology-based engineering and construction company providing a full spectrum of industry-leading services to the hydrocarbon, chemical, energy, forest products, manufacturing, and mining and minerals industries.
Founded in 1919, Halliburton Company is the world's leading diversified energy services, engineering, energy equipment, construction and maintenance company. In 1999, Halliburton's consolidated revenues were $14.9 billion and it conducted business with a workforce of approximately 100,000 in more than 120 countries. The company's World Wide Web site can be accessed at http://www.halliburton.com .
Tesoro Petroleum Corporation is an independent refiner and marketer of petroleum products and provider of marine logistics services. Tesoro operates three refineries in the western U.S. with a combined capacity of 275,000 barrels per day. Tesoro's branded retail network is currently comprised of approximately 240 stations, of which 61 are company owned and operated.
March 11, 2003
Bush one vote away
from Arctic drilling OK
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Republicans say they have moved to within a single vote of guaranteeing President Bush one of his top domestic priorities -- opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
The issue could be decided as early as next week.
An internal GOP memo that circulated Tuesday in the Senate expressed confidence that 49 senators now plan to vote for drilling in the refuge, starting a scramble in search of the remaining lawmaker who would be needed to get the provision through as part of a budget measure.
"Dick Cheney has been working madly to secure the 50th (vote)," said the staff memo developed in the offices of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee and Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska.
The House is expected to have enough votes to pass the drilling provision, but House leaders are reluctant to take up the issue -- and expose some lawmakers to the politically sensitive vote -- unless the Senate takes the lead, congressional sources said.
The matter could be decided by one of four senators -- two Republicans and two Democrats -- who have been leaning toward the anti-drilling camp, but who GOP leaders believe might be persuaded to shift sides, said sources from both parties speaking on condition of anonymity.
The sources said Democratic Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, both of Arkansas, Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Oregon, and freshman Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minnesota, have been subjected to intense behind-the-scenes lobbying to join the pro-drilling side.
A spokeswoman for Coleman -- who succeeded the late Paul Wellstone, a strong critic of drilling in the refuge -- said she could not comment on the memo or Coleman's views on the refuge. Spokesmen for the other three could not be reached Tuesday evening.
Singling out Coleman, Lincoln and Pryor by name, the GOP memo said, "We need to get calls in to those offices from constituents, and fast."
Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Gale Norton called a half dozen interest groups -- including farming and union interests -- to her office and urged them to go to Capitol Hill and "knock on doors and help sell the message" on Arctic drilling to fence-sitting senators.
Development of the millions of barrels of oil believed to be under the coastal plain of the refuge in the far northeastern corner of Alaska has been at the core of Bush's energy agenda.
On the other hand, protecting the 100-mile-long sliver of tundra has been an obsession for environmentalists who insist that drilling will destroy its value as a sanctuary for polar bears, musk oxen, caribou and migratory birds.
Norton, in testimony before a House committee Wednesday, will reiterate that the refuge's oil can be developed "while protecting the environmental values we all hold dear." In her prepared testimony, she calls the refuge's coastal plain "the single greatest prospect for onshore oil and gas development anyplace in the United States" and says its development is essential for national security.
In the last Congress, the House approved drilling in the refuge, but the issue died in the Senate. Democrats, led by presidential aspirants Sens. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and John Kerry of Massachusetts, vowed to filibuster any drilling proposal, meaning supporters would need 60 votes to get the measure passed.
Now that Republicans control the Senate, drilling advocates are maneuvering to include the provision in a budget resolution that is not subject to filibuster. Once in the resolution, it will take drilling opponents 51 votes to get it out. Such a maneuver succeeded in getting the drilling approved by Congress in 1995, but President Clinton vetoed it.
The Senate Budget Committee was expected to approve a resolution, including a drilling provision, this week. Senate floor debate is expected to begin next week and wrap up in April.
Frist "has called for accounting of 50 votes by Wednesday," said the GOP staff memo. "Today we have 49."
March 16, 2005
The Arctic Refuge and Public
Are About to Get Drilled
by Joel Connelly , Seattle Post-Intelligencer
As my raft group paddled into an eddy on Alaska's Canning River for our final pullout, we experienced the reality of what Interior Secretary Gale Norton has dismissed as "flat white nothingness."
A fox scuttled across the tundra. A golden plover squawked at us. We found her nest on the tundra and gave it a wide berth.
Caribou materialized out of a fog bank coming off the Beaufort Sea. They vanished, and then reappeared. An Arctic tern registered its displeasure at our presence by relieving itself on the top of one tent.
The next day I strolled to the top of a nearby bluff. Twenty-four caribou crossed a stream just below me. Later, I awakened from a nap. Two caribou stood perhaps 20 to 30 feet upwind, sniffing for danger.
Back in camp, there were shouts. Two musk oxen trundled between the tents and the cooking area.
The Canning River, as western boundary of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, is ground zero in our nation's greatest land-use battle.
Its fate will be decided thousands of miles away, likely today in a U.S. Senate procedural vote.
Supporters of oil and gas drilling in the refuge put development of what they call "ANWR" into the Senate budget bill. By Senate rules, the budget resolution cannot be filibustered.
As of last night, the Bush administration was poised to win a wafer-thin victory. Pro-drilling votes of Hawaii's Democratic Sens. Dan Inouye and Daniel Akaka likely will offset defections by such GOP senators as John McCain and Lincoln Chafee.
Vice President Dick Cheney, architect of the Bushies' dig it-drill it energy policy, might be called upon to break a 50-50 vote.
Ninety-five percent of Alaska's coastline is presently open to oil exploration.
Drilling in the refuge has, however, been a goal of America's ruling political dynasty since "Poppy" Bush was inaugurated in 1989.
The coastal plain finds itself frequently demeaned by those who see the refuge not as America's greatest wilderness, but as a future site of haul roads and oil and gas platforms.
One oil company flack called it a "flat crummy place." Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, described Gwich'in Athabaskan natives, who oppose drilling, as "Canadian Indians who live in Alaska."
We've heard it before. Dismissive terminology is the favored rhetorical device of the world's wrecking crews.
Remember, a half-century ago, the Seattle editorialist who dismissed calls for a national park in the North Cascades as coming from "mountain climbers and bird watchers."
Gale Norton has been nicknamed the "Stepford Secretary" for her rote recitation of the party line. If the woman had music in her soul -- which she does not -- she might spend a day on the Canning River before the campground of our 2001 trip gets littered with 25-gallon drums.
The final push to drill the Arctic Refuge has a curious resemblance to America's politics of 100 years ago, only in reverse.
Under President Theodore Roosevelt, America was coming out of the Gilded Age. Given its name by Mark Twain, the Gilded Age was the opulent, corrupt era of the late 19th century in which corporate moguls ruled the country.
The trust-busting Roosevelt inaugurated a progressive era.
He created our national forest system and designated national monuments in the Grand Canyon and Olympic Mountains. He protected the vast estuary of Alaska's Copper River Delta from exploitation by greedy coal barons.
America today is entering a new Gilded Age. The Arctic Refuge and the American public have this in common: Both are about to get drilled.
A 2004 Medicare "reform" bill insulated the pharmaceutical industry from price competition.
The bankruptcy "reform" act, passed last week by Congress, is a multibillion-dollar boon to the credit card industry.
A recent tort "reform" bill moved damage suits into federal courts, which are less likely to yield big judgments to Americans who are maimed by defective or shoddy products.
The environmental record, established under Teddy Roosevelt, is being put in reverse.
President Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, created what was then called the Arctic National Wildlife Range in 1960 as one of his last acts in office. A bill in Congress would name the coastal plain after Ike.
Susan Eisenhower, the president's granddaughter, last week called for preservation of the coastal plain, and appealed for the GOP not to turn its back on this legacy.
"I believe the Republican Party has had an outstanding historical tradition, when you think of the leadership it gave to civil rights, when you think of the leadership it gave to the environmental movement, to the balanced budget process," said Eisenhower. "These are solid Republican traditional values."
"I don't believe good stewardship goes out of style, frankly," she added.
A modest use of intelligence could preserve the Arctic Refuge, and take America in a new direction.
The refuge would likely satisfy six months of America's demand for petroleum. Increasing fuel efficiency standards for new cars and SUV's would save far more oil than the coastal plain could ever produce.
As Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., tirelessly points out, hundreds of thousands of Americans could be put to work were the country to commit itself to develop renewable sources of energy.
Instead, it's back to the future.
The Canning River may well be crisscrossed by haul roads and platforms the next time I see it.
It'll be a crying, bloody shame. Why? Allow for a few concluding words by a fellow refuge visitor (and son of Yakima), the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas:
"The Arctic has a call that is compelling ... it is a call to adventure. This is not a place to possess like the plateaus of Wyoming or the valleys of Arizona. It is one to behold with wonderment.
"It is a domain for any restless soul who yearns to discover the startling beauties of creation in a place of quiet and solitude where life exists without molestation by man."
December 21, 2005
US Senate Rejects Oil Drilling
in Alaska Wildlife Refuge
By Voice Of America News
The U.S. Senate has narrowly rejected a measure to allow oil exploration in the Alaskan wildlife refuge - effectively tying up the nearly $450 billion defense budget.
Republicans had hoped to win passage by making the oil drilling issue part of a popular defense spending bill that has money for troops in Iraq and relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina - the storm that hit the U.S. earlier this year.
Democrats accused Republican Senator Ted Stevens of the U.S. state of Alaska of holding the defense bill hostage to push through a measure allowing oil drilling in the Alaska wildlife refuge.
In a statement, Senate Democratic minority leader Harry Reid said the Senate could move quickly to pass the defense bill once the controversial Alaska drilling measure had been resolved.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said President Bush continues to support oil drilling in the Alaska wilderness.
March 18, 2005
Oil and Gas Contributes $179.7 million
- 74 percent to Republicans
The Money Behind the Debate Over Drilling in ANWR
Oil companies are hoping their considerable political clout, built up over years of generous campaign giving and lobbying, will put drilling in ANWR over the top. The oil and gas industry has contributed $179.7 million since 1989 to federal candidates and political parties, 74 percent to Republicans. …
Exxon Mobil is a member of Arctic Power, which bills itself as a grassroots, non-profit organization endorsed by the Alaska legislature that has been at the forefront of the ANWR drilling issue since 1992. …
Oil and gas companies have contributed $368,000 in individual and PAC contributions to Stevens since 1989, more than any other industry.
Other Alaska officials have struck it big from the industry as well.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), who won a tight election last year, raised $195,000 from the industry in the 2004 election cycle alone, enough for a No. 10 ranking among all federal candidates. Alaska’s lone representative in the House, Don Young (R), has raised $874,000 from oil and gas interests since 1989, more than from any other industry. Murkowski and Young both support ANWR drilling.…
[Arctic Power] contends on its Web site that drilling could create as many as 736,000 jobs. Artic Power has spent $1.7 million on federal lobbying since 1997.…
The promise of new job creation has brought the International Brotherhood of Teamsters into an unusual alliance with oil companies on the subject of ANWR. The Teamsters, which have openly opposed many of Bush’s policies, broke from the heavily Democratic labor movement to support drilling.
The Teamsters are among the nation’s largest campaign donors, having contributed $21.9 million since 1989 in individual, PAC and soft money donations, 93 percent to Democrats. The union has spent $7.7 million on lobbying since 1997.
Mike Mathis, director of government affairs for the Teamsters, said the union has sent representatives to lobby new GOP members and lawmakers from labor-heavy states such as Pennsylvania. He added that the union is working to “firm up as many Democrats as we can.”
Mathis said the Teamsters have been working with Sen. Ted Stevens, an Alaska Republican who has long supported drilling. Teamsters members in Alaska also have been coordinating with Arctic Power. The union has not contributed money to the group, as it did a few years ago, but it would do so if “there was a need,” Mathis said.
[mjh: Number junkies should follow this link] Industry Totals: Oil & Gas Long-Term Contribution Trends
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Originally posted: January 14, 2006
Last Updated on July 31, 2008 by The Catbird