Alaska

Minimum Security Resort and Spa

Monty Python told us to always look on the bright side of life, but former Alaska state Rep. Vic Kohring took it a bit far on his last day before beginning a three and half year prison sentence for taking bribes from Veco Corp. to advocate for a pipeline project. TPM Muckraker has the highlights from Vic's last day on the outside, his bizarre roadside thank you to the people of Alaska, and his ambitions for life behind bars.

More on the "A Team"

Yesterday, Katie pointed to an "intern guide" leaked out of Rep. Don Young's (R-AK) office. The guide listed an "A Team" of lobbyists who were to be given access to any Young staff member they wanted.

 

It's of course no surprise that big corporate lobbyists get special treatment in Washington.

 

Young's "A Team"

Lobbyists who gave thousands to Rep. Don Young (R-AK) over the course of his career were on an "A Team" granted special access to Young and his staff, according to an unofficial "survival guide" for interns in Young's office obtained by The Hill. In addition to explaining the preferences and quirks of Rep. Young and his wife, the guide lists the lobbyists who were given access to any staff member they wanted.

Protecting the Young

On the one hand, three cheers for investigations into lawmakers abusing their positions to reward themselves and their contributions, on the other hand thumbs down for recent court rulings that are deterring public corruption investigations in favor of granting special privacy privileges to members of Congress. Go the Politico for more on the Rep. Don Young (R-AK) earmark controversy and the Speech and Debate clause that might save him.

Institute Change

Ray Metcalfe writes at the Alaska Report that the state is the victim of "institutionalized corruption" on the part of its legislators that has put money in the pockets of a few, at the expense of honest public servants. The Goodfellas poster mock-up is pretty funny.

Sen. Stevens Continues to Endear Himself

More bad news for Senator Ted Stevens. The Anchorage Daily News is reporting that he set up an earmark to finance a real estate bailout for a longtime aid. The $1.6 million earmark to the SeaLife Center in Seward, Alaska was used to buy half a million in property from a former aide, Trevor McCabe.

Give and Bear It

You think you have trouble getting Congress to pay attention to your problems? Try being a polar bear. Yeah, polar bears are cute and if a bear has the good fortune to be born in a Berlin zoo lots of teenage girls will line up to take his picture and purchase t-shirts bearing his likeness but for the average bear hunting seals in Alaska, the outlook is grim. And his congressional representation isn’t helping.

Two Initiatives Diverged In a Yellow Wood...

Language is a tricky thing, as signature gatherers for two very different ballot initiatives in Alaska are learning. The first, the Clean Elections initiative would offer candidates for the state legislature a full public financing option for their races. The second, the Anti-Corruption initiative would explicitly forbid public financing of elections. Be careful which one you sign.

Finding a New Audience

Professors Susan Andrews and John Creed pen this op-ed for the Juneau Empire about the rash of corruption stories in Alaska and why they point the ways towards approving the Clean Elections ballot initiative for which signatures are currently being gathered.

Force for Change

Will public outrage over the bribery of public officials in Alaska result in an overhaul in oil and gas industry policy in the state? The Christian Science Monitor suggests that the relationship between the state and its dominant industry may get strained in the course of addressing the corruption inquiries that have already sent several Alaska lawmakers to jail.