Inouye-Stevens amity transcends FBI probe
Sen. Daniel Inouye visited Alaska towns with Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, whom the FBI is investigating for alleged corruption.
DEMOCRATIC Sen. Daniel Inouye has been spending part of his August vacation making the rounds with beleaguered Republican Sen. Ted Stevens
in his state of Alaska. Stevens is under investigation for allegedly accepting bribes from an Alaska oil utility firm. Company officers have admitted making illegal political bribes totaling $400,000. Federal contracts awarded to the company during the past eight years are worth $170 million. As Inouye is demonstrating, friendship is priceless.
When the Stevens allegations surfaced several weeks ago, Inouye said he did not "know personally" Bill J. Allen, the former VECO oil services company executive who oversaw the 2000 renovation of Stevens' Alaska home, even though Allen gave Inouye's campaign $2,000 and other VECO employees pitched in $9,000. Inouye said he "did not solicit contributions from them," and no one is suggesting otherwise.
Inouye and Stevens, who call each other "brothers," spent several days last week visiting towns that have benefited from Stevens-earmarked federal projects. "I'm here to tell the people of Alaska that I support him, that you're fortunate to have him," Inouye said. Stevens is up for re-election next year.
Stevens is the longest-serving Republican in Senate history, joining the club in 1968 as Inouye was beginning his second term. Their years in the Senate have placed them in position to bring huge amounts of federal funding to their home states, and both senators defend the earmarking method of doing so.
Stevens brought home $1.05 billion, or $1,677 per resident last year, tops in the Senate, compared with $904 million, or $746 per resident, garnered by Inouye for Hawaii. That is the value of seniority adeptly exercised.
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