My turn: Ben Stevens faces new allegations

Posted: Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Republican Moderate Party chairman, Ray Metcalfe, submitted another complaint to the Alaska Public Office Commission and the attorney general's office about Senate President Ben Stevens' "willful and routine concealment of reportable income." It regards Semco Energy stock awards and board member compensation valued at more than $175,000, which Stevens received since January of 2005. The complaint says this "adds up to a high probability that Ben Stevens has crossed the threshold for removal from the Legislature, set by the Supreme Court of Alaska, in Grimm v. Wagoner. Juneau Empire readers will recognize that this court case has been mentioned in earlier My Turn articles on Stevens' misreporting.

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The information was gleaned from Securities and Exchange reports filed by Semco and an agent of Stevens, who currently receives about $3,080 a month in additional stock, as well as cash compensation for his board position. Coincidentally, the Anchorage Daily News ran a Liz Ruskin front-page story on April 28, which outlined cash details that Metcalfe used to amend his complaint. The Michigan-based company, Semco Energy, operates in Alaska as Enstar, "the utility that distributes gas in Anchorage and the Mat-Su area," according to Ruskin.

On April 27, Metcalfe sent a news release to Anchorage television stations that might like to see him deliver the latest "Republican Moderate Party Protestant Manifesto" to APOC's offices and the attorney general. It said, "The complaint will detail proof beyond question of more concealment, deception and fraud on the part of state Sen. Ben Stevens. The fraud and deception demonstrated is well in excess of what the Supreme Court of Alaska said would require one's removal from the Senate. It is time for the Alaska Legislature to schedule hearings on the question of whether or not Ben Stevens should continue to be in the state Senate and to force recusal, barring Stevens from voting on issues dealing with fisheries and/or oil and gas until these matters are investigated."

It continued, "At this time, Alaska's residents have every reason to believe that Ben Stevens has been bribed by multiple players, to assist in the delivery of Alaska's gas at bargain basement prices, through a Canadian pipeline to a Midwest market in which one of the players paying him holds a major interest. The legitimacy of any legislation passed while under this cloud of deception and bribery is clearly subject to challenge. To argue legislative immunity ... is absurd on its face. Recognizing immunity under such circumstances would thwart the findings of the Alaska Supreme Court in Grimm v. Wagoner ... rendering it not possible to carry out the court's orders."

Federal authorities have also been asked to look into the matter of why the state's own agencies have failed to properly investigate and prosecute the alleged abuses. Given the weight of the latest news and complaint, it may not be long before fishermen are attending a luau in Anchorage after Stevens' removal from office. Roast pork will be served, of course!

• Stephen Taufen, a part of Groundswell Fisheries Movement, is a former Alaskan resident. He is now a featured columnist on the Web site.

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