Alaska Congressmen Attempt to Earmark ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ For Personal Profiteering
In 2005, Congress defeated the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” earmark spearheaded by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), which would have spent $200 million connecting mainland Alaska to an island home to 50 people.
Roll Call reports today that members of Alaska’s congressional delegation are persisting in making another bridge in the Alaskan tundra. Their pet project this time is for a bridge in the sparsely populated Knik Arm region, and the earmark “could mean a significant windfall for a number of people close to the Congressional delegation…some of whom purchased land in the area.”
Both Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Rep. Don Young (R-AK) have several relatives and former aides who own land or stock in companies with property in the Knik Arm region. Most notorious, however, is Stevens, whose underlings stand to make hundreds of thousands of dollars from the bridge:
George Lowe, Chief of Staff: “[O]wns a 2.6 acre parcel of undeveloped land on the Knik Arm…Borough records show that Lowe’s land went from being appraised at $47,000 in 2005 to $57,500 in 2006.”
Lisa Sutherland, former aide: “[O]wns just under four acres on Knik Arm, which they purchased in October 2002. The value of the land went from $38,400 in 2005 to $65,000 in 2006, according to the assessment.”
Trevor McCabe, former aide: Owns stock in Point Bluff LLC, which holds tens of acres of land in the area. “McCabe and his wife also own a separate parcel on Knik Arm, 3.7 undeveloped acres. … The value of that property went from $37,800 in 2005 to $62,400 in 2006, according to the property assessment.”
Sen. Stevens’ cronyism here is a continuation of years of abuse of his power for personal gain. His son, Ben Stevens has received millions of dollars in consulting fees from several of Sen. Stevens’ projects (see the list HERE). For example, Sen. Stevens secured more than $10 million in federal aid to put the 2001 Special Olympics Winter Games in Anchorage. Ben Stevens ran those Olympics and received over $700,000 in salary for doing so.
Sen. Stevens also helped settle a disputed contract favorable to VECO, an Alaskan oil company which recently pleaded guilty to bribing at least four Alaskan officials, including paying over $200,000 in bribes to Ben Stevens.