The Ethical Disaster Area That Is Ben Stevens

Ben Stevens, 2007, via KTUU
Ben Stevens, 2007, via KTUU

Ben “Little Ben” Stevens, son of the late U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, is a one-man, ethical disaster area. He recently proved it again, as disclosed by the Anchorage Daily News. But before we got to the most recent ethical lapses, let’s have a look at a few of the earilier ones.

This would be the same 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.

While representing his Anchorage constituents, all of whom were Enstar Natural Gas customers, in the Alaska State Senate, he 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, Ben Stevens deferred receipt of those fees to a future date. That’s right, he had a duty of loyalty to his constituents and a duty of loyalty to the corporation. He managed to avoid an Alaska Public Offices Commission fine for his failure to report the deferred fees, but the whole business came out. This gives us all a price point for Ben Stevens’ ethics: not more than $70,000.

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 ‘ve never had an explanation from the Feds.

Republican political gadfly Ray Metcalf has carefully documented $923,000 in “consulting fees” paid by commercial fishery industry companies to Ben Stevens. Those same companies are alleged to have received more than $12 million in payments directed to them by Little Ben.

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.

Then there’s that time he accepted $715,000 (!) for three years’ work as a part-time Chief Executive Officer for the 2001 Special Olympics World Winter Games. Remember he took those “fees” while he was also working five months of the year as a state senator in the Alaska Legislature, for which he was also paid.

Of course, Little Ben has never been charged with a crime. But can we all agree that his record doesn’t speak well for his ethics. A cynic – WC is an admitted cynic – would say Little Ben has sold himself at every opportunity, sometimes getting a pretty good price. Conflicts of interest, ethical scruples and moral principles? Not a concern for little Ben.

Little Ben spent some time in political purgatory after that. You know, working as a Washington, D.C.-based lobbyist.

A sensible politician wouldn’t touch Ben Stevens with a ten foot salmon dip net.

But then Gov. Mike Dunleavy made Little Ben his Chief of Staff, the third most powerful position in this administration. What could possibly go wrong?

As it turns out, quite a lot. Little Ben, when told that Dunleavy’s hand-picked Attorney General had outrageously sexually harrassed a young staffer, to the extent of some 558 text messages that included invitations to come have dinner or sip wine at his house at night. He peppered her with text messages with kiss emoji, workplace selfies and comments on her beauty. And phone calls late at night to her personal phone. More than a third of the texts were sent after she had strongly asked him to stop. Clarkson would visit the young staffer at work, stroking her hair or kissing her on the top of the head.

The young staffer’s supervisor took the problem to Little Ben. You know, the Chief of Staff. And Little Ben’s reaction: the young staffer needed to have a “thick skin.” The technical term for that comment is “blaming the victim.” And when the whole sordid mess broke into the public eye, Little Ben worked with Dunleavy to hide it. And coached folks on how to lie to the media. The technical term for that is “subornation of perjury.”

Maybe the Recall Dunleavy folks need to add an additional grounds to their recall petition: employing Ben Stevens. But WC digresses.

Ben Stevens is corrupt, unethical and immoral. An ethical disaster area. It may be entirely appropriate that he’s Mike Dunleavy’s chief of staff, birds of a feather and all that, but he needs to go. He needs to be sent back under his rock before he does more harm.

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