My turn: Alaskans deserve truth about Stevens

Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Alaskans deserve truth about Sen. Ted Stevens, and they surely won't find it in the sham Web site the Alaska Democratic Party put together.

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I am a current member of the Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board. We meet again in Anchorage on Dec. 19. I have counted at least two dozen inferences, untruths and intentional lies on the Alaska Democratic Party's Web site regarding our board and its operations. The AFMB was put together with Saltonstahl-Kennedy funds that were supposed to be in a dedicated marketing account.

After years of constituent work done by UFA, work that began while Ben Stevens was still back east getting his MBA, Sen. Ted Stevens set up the AFMB and brought back $36 million to Alaska for seafood marketing. The 11-member board that was set up includes the major players in Alaska seafood marketing, transportation, wholesale and retail, as well as four active commercial fishermen. We named Ben chairman, not Ted. The other misstatements, untruths and outright lies are too numerous to name here.

I am also the executive director of Southeast Alaska Seiners Association, a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1968. I counted at least a dozen untruths, misstatements and outright lies regarding our part in this Web site that the Alaska Democratic Party has put together. Their main source is an NPR radio piece done this summer. That show was researched side by side with the Democratic National Party and the bias in interviews and sources was an undeniable attempt to slur our great senior senator. My webmaster checked our Web site for the hits and they came from the same source computers within minutes of each other during the research phase of the story.

The buyback we are working on was written by a current Palin administration official at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, working in conjunction with the Southeast Seiners board of directors. This man is a man of impeccable character and integrity who was working on a plan, as we are now, to create a better economic environment for commercial fishermen. It was his job advancement to the department that vacated the job I now hold and that brought me to Juneau.

I don't know everything about other issues other than commercial fishing and my personal involvement in this investigation, but I can attest that the portion that I am involved in is nothing more than a witch hunt gone awry. If the rest of the allegations against the Stevens family are anything like what I've lived through, then this is nothing more than a mockery of Alaska and our senior Senator- McCarthyism at its finest.

Naturally, I've spoken to the AP folk and made myself available to speak with other media folk like the NPR guys, but who needs the real story when fiction is better print. In fact the NPR story, over 5 minutes long, did not interview or speak with a single Alaskan. No wonder the Alaska Democratic Party used the piece since it was compiled by the National Democratic Party.

With this kind of "truth" in advertising, who needs fiction. Both the AFMB and the Southeast buyback were not Ted Stevens' nor Ben Stevens' ideas. They were constituent needs that thousands of commercial fishermen asked the senator from Alaska to work on.

And work he did. Our salmon prices here in Southeast are nearly triple what they were when the Big Man got started.

Yes, chairwoman, Alaskans deserve the truth about Ted Stevens.

And you're not giving it to them.

• Bob Thorstenson Jr. is a Juneau resident, Southeast Alaska Seiners Association executive director and an Alaska Fisheries Marketing board member.

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