By FRANK MCQUEARY
It is the 10th anniversary of the political assassination of the late Sen. Ted Stevens, which occurred two years before his untimely death in a plane crash on Aug. 9, 2010.
I have been watching the coverage of the “Russian collusion investigation” and the trial of Paul Manafort.
A picture is starting to take shape:
If you were in Alaska in 2007 and 2008 you had a ringside seat to see the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice fabricate a criminal case against US Senator Ted Stevens.
The head of the FBI at the time was Robert Mueller.
While ultimately cleared of all charges, the case against him cost Stevens his seat in the US Senate in 2008.
The heart of the DOJ/FBI prosecution was the allegation that Stevens had failed to disclose over $250,000 worth of work on his Girdwood “chalet”. It was $250,000 of work ostensibly done by his friend Bill Allen’s company, VECO, in addition to the $180,000 which Stevens had paid for the so-called improvements.
Events would eventually make it obvious that Stevens overpaid by $80,000 or more and should have been suing to get some of his money back.
But the FBI/DOJ team had a different narrative they were selling.
On July 30, 2007 they hired a locksmith and invited news and TV crews to observe their “raid” on Sen. Stevens home.
The Anchorage Daily News, in the person of Rich Mauer, as well as reporters from Anchorage TV station Channel 2 and commentator-for-hire Shannon (Shannyn) Moore were there by invitation.
What this intrepid band of reporters failed somehow to notice was that there was no way that $180,000 much less the alleged additional $250,000 from VECO, had been spent on upgrading Ted’s rather modest chalet.
Nor did they see any incongruity in the FBI, normally religiously silent about ongoing investigations, inviting them to what became a show and tell.
Nor, it is worth noting, have any of these intrepid souls had the moral courage to set the record straight by admitting that they were duped by the investigators.
But why would Sen. Stevens’ friend Bill Allen testify to something which was patently untrue?
Undisclosed by the FBI/DOJ team were several salient facts:
Bill Allen was in the process of selling his company, VECO, to CH2MHill for net cash proceeds somewhere in the neighborhood of $432,000,000.
The majority of those proceeds were allowed to flow through to Allen family members and trusts as well as several minority owners. Only the $70,000,000, which was to go directly to Bill Allen, was impounded by the DOJ pending his cooperation in the prosecution of Sen. Stevens.
Also undisclosed was the fact that Allen, once named Alaskan of the Year, now drunken and brain-damaged from a motorcycle accident, was himself under investigation by the Anchorage Police Department for illicit sexual relations with a minor, and that the investigation was being quashed by the FBI/DOJ.
The carrot for Allen’s cooperation was the release of his $70,000,000; the stick was the frozen investigation of Allen’s own corrupt criminal acts.
Ultimately the illegal prosecution of Sen. Stevens was thrown out, first by Judge Emmett Sullivan, and then by Eric Holder.
But it cost Stevens his seat in the US Senate.
In July of 2008, just months before the elections, a DC jury convicted Stevens. Using the suborned false testimony of Bill Allen, hiding evidence of Stevens’ innocence, the FBI and DOJ had piled on charges and leaked so much false and damaging evidence to the “press” that the Washington DC jury returned a conviction.
But all this was only part of the story. In Florida, a minor league Democrat named Vic Vickers, packed up his household goods and headed to Alaska. He changed his registration to Republican, filed to run for US Senate and proceeded to spend a million dollars on “campaign” ads that said little, other than “Stevens is a crook.”
And, in Washington DC, the Democratic National Committee, then under Chuck Schumer’s leadership, was grooming Mark Begich to replace Stevens. In Alaska Begich was cautious in his criticism of Stevens because of Stevens’ popularity. In DC where his financial and political support was based he was vicious in attacking Ted.
Apologists in the years since Stevens’ conviction was overturned have tried to paint the indictment as the work of the Bush Administration and the exoneration as the work of the Obama administration.
The reality is that it was an entrenched bureaucracy which was putting its thumb on the scales of justice.
When whistleblower Special Agent Chad Joy revealed just some of the improprieties and illegal activities on the part of the FBI/DOJ, you would have expected that heads would have rolled. But the only one in the FBI to suffer much more than a slap on the wrist was Chad Joy, the whistleblower who went public and revealed the ethical lapses on the part of both the FBI investigation and the DOJ prosecution.
Needless to say his career in a bureaucracy run by Robert Mueller did not thrive. One year later he was no longer with the FBI His partner, Mary Beth Kepner, who was found guilty of a myriad of ethical and legal lapses, was still with the FBI years later.
Similarly in the DOJ not much happened to the malfeasants. Only Nicholas Marsh suffered a self-imposed penalty when he committed suicide.
It was during this period of time under Mueller’s leadership at the FBI that Mueller first partnered with DOJ’s Andrew Weissman. Weissman had promulgated the practice of intimidating witnesses and soliciting false testimony, hiding evidence and procuring high-profile convictions, which were later overturned on appeal, but not before lives were ruined and in some cases lost. When his brutal and dishonest practices had been focused on racketeers and crime lords, no one seemed to care about his tactics.
In the summer of 2008 when I and others had encouraged Stevens to mount a vigorous campaign and proclaim his innocence loudly and broadly, the former federal prosecutor explained that he had to walk a very narrow path because under the RICO statutes that were being used, any public comments he made concerning the investigation could be interpreted by the DOJ/FBI investigators as “obstruction” and could lead to new charges.
Ultimately Stevens did hire a campaign manager in August of 2008. It was too little, too late. Many former supporters were either intimidated by the aggressive manipulation of facts by the FBI or convinced of Stevens’ guilt by the staged display and leaking of information about the investigation to sympathetic media.
Stevens ultimately lost the election by a mere 3,000 votes in spite of the false “conviction” and the overwhelmingly negative coverage in the Anchorage Daily News by the rabidly anti-Stevens reporter Rich Mauer.
Mark Begich, with the help of Chuck Schumer and the DNC went on to become Alaska’s Junior Senator, just in time to provide the 60th vote for Obamacare and vote in lockstep with Obama’s redistribution agenda.
In April of 2009 Judge Emmet G. Sullivan dismissed the ethics conviction of Ted Stevens. In a 14 minute diatribe he said that he had never seen “mishandling and misconduct like I have seen” in the Stevens trial. He then appointed a special counsel to determine if the prosecutors themselves should face criminal charges themselves.
A powerful US Sen. Stevens was the bureaucratic cabal’s first major political victim. But now it is after a bigger fish, the president of the United States.
Frank McQueary is a life-long Alaskan and political activist and student of Alaska history.