Former rep works to recall Sen. Ben Stevens

Senator says recall effort based on politics, not facts

Posted: Friday, August 05, 2005

ANCHORAGE - Former state Rep. Ray Metcalfe says state Sen. Ben Stevens has provided the "perfect storm" for a recall effort - displaying arrogance, attempting a raid on the Alaska Permanent Fund and maintaining a conflict of interest.

It is the last-named assertion that Metcalfe is focusing on for now. He filed signatures and an application Thursday with the Division of Elections seeking to formally begin a recall process to oust Stevens, a Republican representing District N in South Anchorage.

"He made a pompous ass of himself over Mark Begich and 'Valley trash,"' Metcalfe said, referring to Stevens' sparring with the Anchorage mayor over road projects and an unflattering comment he made about a Wasilla woman.

"He reached for the dividend and he gave, (to) me at least, the appearance of corruption," Metcalfe said. "That's the perfect formula for a recall."

Stevens denies the conflict allegations. He issued a statement Wednesday night through political consultant Art Hackney in anticipation of Metcalfe's application.

"This recall effort is based on the politics of personal destruction, and not on the facts," Stevens said.

A recall application requires signatures equal to 10 percent of the turnout in an elected official's district in the last general election, which is 1,233 signatures in Stevens' district. Metcalfe said he turned in 2,200 to 2,300.

The Division of Elections has 30 days to consider the application.

If the division determines there are no legal grounds for the recall, Metcalfe said, he will strongly consider suing.

If the application is approved, the backers' next step would be to collect signatures equal to 25 percent of the voters in District N who participated in the last general election, which is 3,080 signatures. That would spur a special election to decide the recall question.

The basis of the recall application is a perceived conflict between Stevens' consulting work for VECO Corp., an oil field services company, and his obligations as a state senator.

VECO in 1999 supported a campaign seeking voter permission to use permanent fund money for capital projects, the application said. Voters rejected the proposal with an 83 percent vote.

Since 1999, VECO has paid $400,000 to six lobbyists and $195,000 to Stevens, seeking ways to pay the costs of government with permanent fund earnings, according to Metcalfe. That, according to the application, would reduce public pressure to demand world market value for Alaska oil.

The Alaska Constitution requires Stevens as a senator to seek the highest possible payment for state resources but his contract with VECO pays him to give advice and loyalty to a company seeking to extract state resources for as little as possible, the application states.

Recall proponents began to organize when Stevens introduced Senate Bill 155, which proposed using permanent fund earnings for school construction and maintenance projects, Metcalfe said.

Stevens strongly denied a connection between the bill and his consulting contracts.

"To imply that my motives for introducing S.B. 155 are somehow related to my personal business relationships is baseless and without merit," Stevens said.

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