What Ever Happened to? Ben Stevens?
Almost a year ago, WC wrote an open letter to then Attorney General John Burns, asking why Ben Stevens has never been charged with any crimes by the State of Alaska. Why? Consider this rap sheet:
Item: Ben Stevens, while representing his Anchorage constituents and Enstar Natural Gas customers in the Alaska State Senate, was also serving on the Board of Directors of Semco, Enstar’s owner. To help hide the $70,000 in politically embarrassing director’s fees from his constituents, Little Ben deferred receipt of those fees to a future date. He managed to avoid an Alaska Public Offices Commission fine for his failure to report the deferred fees, but the whole business came out.
Item: Ben Stevens, while representing his constituents in the Alaska State Senate, collected more than $240,000 in “consulting fees” for performing no documented services for his erstwhile employer, Veco. Now it may be that Little Ben was performing services; after all, former Veco Vice President Rick Smith testified under oath that Veco was bribing Ben Stevens. But the absence of any evidence of . . . legitimate . . . work by Little Ben bothered some of the more scrupulous folks at Veco, like Roger Chan and outside counsel Jack Miller.
Item: Ben Stevens was the unindicted co-conspirator – “Senator B” – in United States v. Kott. At least according to U.S. District Judge John Sedwick. Why “unindicted” when the FBI had recorded damning telephone conversations between Bill Allen, Veco CEO, and Little Ben? We can only speculate.
Item: Republican political gadfly Ray Metcalf has carefully documented $923,000 in “consulting fees” by fishery industry companies to Ben Stevens. Those same companies are alleged to have received more than $12 million in payments directed them by Little Ben.
Item: Ben Stevens had a confidential option to purchase a 25% interest in Adak Fisheries at the time his father, the late U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, was pushing through a bill to create a fishery allocation project. The law had the effect of great increasing Adak Fisheries value – and the value of Little Ben’s secret option. At the same time, Little Ben was on the board of directors of Aleut Enterprise Corporation, which was charged with allocation of the pollock fishery. Without disclosing the conflict of interest, Little Ben voted for a big allocation to Adak Fisheries and argued against a larger share to Aleut Corporation.
Item: In August, 2011, in the wake of the badly botched Polar Pen fiasco, Ben Stevens was told the feds wouldn’t be pursuing criminal charges against him. Why? The Feds won’t say. We can only speculate.
Item: In September, 2011, WC was advised that because the State of Alaska had awaited the outcome of the federal investigation before acting, and because the federal investigation went on so long, the statute of limitations – the time during which a criminal charge may be brought – for violations of Alaska’s criminal laws had run. Alaska law requires a criminal charge to be filed within five years. There’s some statutes that extend the interval, but not far enough to save the Alaska Department of Law’s bacon.
Why didn’t the Feds prosecute Little Ben? In all of the investigations and post mortems of the botched prosecution of Ted Stevens, the question has never been addressed to WC’s knowledge. Cliff Groh has some interesting speculation, including the intriguing idea that by duly reporting all of his
bribes consulting fees, Little Ben made the prosecution much harder. But is that all it takes?
So Little Ben will never face a jury for any of this stuff. He gets away with it. About all a citizen can do when the government lets the public down like this is to make certain Ben Stevens never again gets elected to public office again. So WC will, from time to time, remind readers of just how bad Little Ben is.