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Earmark Season Starting Anew

Budget hawks have criticized the multimillion dollar earmark, which Stevens inserted into the fiscal 2008 spending bill, in part because it will benefit several current and former aides and business associates of Stevens who own property in the remote area the ferry would serve. Stevens does not respond to those criticisms, nor does the video mention a number of other controversial earmarks, including several that are at the heart of the federal investigations into him and his son, Ben. The video sidesteps mention of the more than $30 million that Stevens directed to the Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board, a nonprofit he created and where his son and his former aide Trevor McCabe were board members. The board doled out most of that money to companies that employed the two. The FBI and Internal Revenue Service are investigating the board.

The video also is silent on earmarks that Stevens authored that sent millions to the Alaska SeaLife Center. The FBI, IRS and Interior Department have launched an investigation into whether those funds were inappropriately diverted to McCabe as part of a land sale.

Stevens only references criticism of Alaska earmarks once toward the end of the video when talking about his efforts to fund the Barrow Arctic Research Center, saying “it has been criticized as an earmark, but people don’t know what they’re talking about.”

Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee has begun the yearly process of collecting earmark requests from lawmakers, with subcommittee chairmen sending out request letters to their colleagues.

As last year, Members this year will be required to provide the subcommittees with information on whom the money would go toward and the nature of the project, as well as a certification that neither the lawmaker nor their spouse has a financial interest in the earmark.

Although each subcommittee sets a deadline for requests, Senate aides said the bulk of the requests will be due by the end of April.

Correction: Feb. 25, 2008

The story incorrectly described the Cook Inlet Tribal Council. The tribe’s government contracting activities are conducted through the Cook Inlet Regional Inc., an Alaska Native Regional Corporation. Although nine of the council’s 17 board members are appointed by CIRI, the two organizations are operated as separate entities.

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