Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Senator Ted Stevens: Redefining Appropriations

I always thought being chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee meant you were in charge of appropriating funds for the government, not for yourself.

Silly me.

In true embodyment of the American Dream, Senator Ted Stevens (R), powerful chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and President Pro Tem of the Senate, went from almost broke in the mid-1970's to being a millionaire today. Anything to do with the fact that he's one of the most powerful people in the country and (shudder) third the constitutional line of succession to the Oval Office? You be the judge. Here are some of the ways he did it, according to the Los Angeles Times.
  • Armed with the power his committee posts give him over the Pentagon, Stevens helped save a $450-million military housing contract for an Anchorage businessman. The same businessman made Stevens a partner in a series of real estate investments that turned the senator's $50,000 stake into at least $750,000 in six years.

  • An Alaska Native company that Stevens helped create got millions of dollars in defense contracts through preferences he wrote into law. Now the company pays $6 million a year to lease an office building owned by the senator and his business partners. Stevens continues to push legislation that benefits the company.

  • An Alaskan communications company benefited from the senator's activities on the Commerce Committee. His wife, Catherine, earned tens of thousands of dollars from an inside deal involving the company's stock.
Stevens, in a written response to questions submitted by The Times, said that in all these cases his official actions were motivated by a desire to help Alaska, and that he played no role in the day-to-day management of the ventures into which he put money.