Saturday, March 7, 2009

Data Points Suggesting that the FBI "Whistle-Blower" Has Not Rendered the Justice Department Comatose

Anchorage, Alaska—

Following the release of FBI Special Agent Chad Joy’s complaint, the suggestion has been made by at least one long-time lawyer and former Assistant U.S. Attorney that the probe into Alaska public corruption had stalled. Two quick notes showing that federal prosecutors working on public corruption cases in Alaska have not completely entered a shell:

1. The Department of Justice has secured from the court another delay in the sentencing of Bill Allen and Rick Smith, the two former executives of the oil-services firm VECO who have been toiling as cooperating witnesses for the federal government against office-holders that they had bribed. The latest extension runs until June 30. As noted by Rich Mauer in the Anchorage Daily News, “The latest delay is the strongest indication yet that the government is still pursuing its investigation despite setbacks following the Stevens conviction, including an FBI agent who claimed another agent and prosecutors violated Justice Department policy and may have broken the law.”

2. In a case with an Alaska connection that does not appear to have started as part of the federal investigation into Alaska public corruption, a second former high-level aide to Rep. Don Young (R.-Alaska) has been criminally charged with violating federal laws against corruption. The indictment of Fraser Verrusio, policy director of the House Transportation Committee when Young chaired the panel, evidently grows out of the long-running probe of disgraced uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The Abramoff investigation has led to a conviction of about a dozen public officials and lobbyists in Washington, D.C., including one Member of Congress who sits in federal prison. The Anchorage Daily News article—again by Rich Mauer—points out that while there has never been any formal indication that Young is under scrutiny in the Abramoff investigation, the federal government is probing Young’s ties to VECO in connection with campaign contributions and alleged cash payments to the Congressman at golfing events held in Young’s honor. Mauer’s article can be found at, and C-SPAN has told me that Mauer himself will be the primary subject of an hour-long interview focusing on the Alaska public corruption investigation and the Ted Stevens trial airing on Sunday, March 22, at 8 p.m. Eastern and again at 11 p.m. Eastern.

Correction and Addition--After receiving alcohol treatment, former U.S. Rep. Bob Ney (R.-Ohio) was released from prison last August after serving 17 months of a sentence originally set at 30 months--so no Congressman is currently in prison as a result of the Jack Abramoff probe. And C-SPAN will be running two programs covering the Alaska public corruption investigation and the Ted Stevens trial, the second of which will feature Rich Mauer and is described above. The first of those two shows is set for Sunday, March 15, at 8 p.m. Eastern and again at 11 p.m. Eastern. That first program is the one featuring me.

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