Ted Stevens: Retire Sooner Please.

Why in the world does Ted Stevens still not have a strong primary challenger even though he’s up for reelection in 2008?

Setting aside the fact that he’s 84 years and one of the biggest pork pushers in the entire Senate, he’s completely corrupt. Just take a look at this article and you’ll get an idea of just how sleazy Stevens really is…

Federal authorities investigating Sen. Ted Stevens are trolling the Alaska fishing industry for evidence of whether the powerful Republican pushed seafood legislation that benefited his lobbyist son.

So far, the most public aspect of the investigation was the FBI raid on Stevens’ home in July, with agents seeking evidence of the senator’s relationship with a corrupt Alaska oil contractor.

…Among the pieces of Stevens-sponsored legislation being eyed:

_A $100 million federal loan program approved in 2000 to buy out Alaska crab boats, trim the size of the fleet and boost prices. The Bering Sea Crab Effort Reduction Fund, an industry group that supported the buyout program, hired Ben Stevens’ company, Advance North, as a consultant.

_A $30 million earmark Ted Stevens used to create the Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board, which provided federal money to promote Alaska seafood. Ben Stevens was the board’s first chairman and approved grants to companies including those paying him consulting fees, state financial disclosure reports show.

_A $50 million loan program, like the crab buyback, seeking to trim the Alaska salmon fleet in 2004. The Southeast Alaska Seiners Association, a salmon fishing organization, hired Advance North to help push the deal. Ben Stevens is not a federal lobbyist and the salmon fishing group said his business partner, Trevor McCabe, did the lobbying.

But Victor Smith, a fisherman and critic of Ben Stevens, gave the FBI a taped phone conversation that he said proves otherwise. In the 2005 conversation, Smith called the seiners group’s board member Bryan Benkman to discuss why funding was stuck in the federal bureaucracy even after the earmark passed.

Both men expressed disappointment in Ben Stevens and Smith asked why he was hired. Benkman replied that the younger Stevens recalled his success getting the crab buyback passed and pitched himself as a conduit to his father.

“He said, ‘Hey, see I’ve got a program. You know, I’ve got this one to my credit. Hire me, you know, I’ll get Dad to fund you guys, too,” Benkman said.

_A 2003 earmark that gave exclusive pollock fishing rights to Alaska natives in the far-flung Aleutian community of Adak. That meant millions of dollars for Adak Fisheries to manage the catch of pollock, the lucrative whitefish commonly used in fishsticks and fish sandwiches.

The company paid Ben Stevens $295,000 between 2000 and 2004, according to state financial disclosure reports. When the earmark went through, Ben Stevens also secretly held an option to buy into Adak Fisheries.

If the GOP runs someone this crooked in the general election in 2008, then we deserve to lose the seat to the Democrats.

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