Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sen. Lisa Murkowski Spars with Attorney General over Failure to Prosecute Bill Allen for Sexual Crimes with Minors


U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R.-Alaska) pressed Attorney General Eric Holder this morning at a Senate hearing about why the federal government has not prosecuted former VECO CEO Bill Allen for having sex with underage girls.

Holder stated that neither “political connections” nor Allen’s cooperation with the Department of Justice in the federal probe into Alaska public corruption were the reasons that the convicted briber escaped prosecution for sexual crimes involving teenagers.

Holder said that the decisions on charging Allen “were made only on the basis of the facts, the law, and the principles that we have to apply.” According to Erika Bolstad's article in the Anchorage Daily News, Holder also said that "But the decisions had nothing to do with political connections, whether somebody's cooperated in a case or something like that."

Sen. Murkowski continued to express unhappiness over the failure to bring sex-related charges against Allen, who is serving a three-year prison sentence for bribery; conspiracy to commit extortion, bribery, and honest-services fraud; and conspiracy to commit tax violations.

Now a politically radioactive pariah perceived as a demon and a pervert, less than five years ago Allen was a multimillionaire tycoon and political titan who palled around with powerful Alaskans very familiar to Lisa Murkowski. Allen is in prison in part for his illegal lobbying of legislators to support an oil-tax plan pushed by then-Gov. Frank Murkowski, Lisa Murkowski’s father and the man who appointed her to the U.S. Senate. Pursuant to an agreement with federal prosecutors, Allen testified against two state lawmakers and then-U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, a Last Frontier icon who served as Lisa Murkowski’s mentor on Capitol Hill. Allen frequently took one-on-one vacations with Ted Stevens in the desert, trips both men called “Boot Camps.”

"This is something that has so troubled Alaskans to the core," the Anchorage Daily News quoted Murkowski as telling Holder this morning. "You have an extremely high-profile political figure, extraordinarily wealthy, truly abusing in a very terrible way a 15-year-old girl over a period of years. The assumption just is that the wealthy politician--or the wealthy guy with the political connections--is able to get away with a level of criminality that simply would not be accepted elsewhere."

Bolstad’s story says that Murkowski stated this morning that the U.S. Senator was considering asking the Justice Department's Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility to examine the handing of the child abuse allegations against Allen. The colloquy between Senator Murkowski and General Holder occurred at a hearing held by a subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, according to the Website

There is substantial evidence that Bill Allen violated laws—both state and federal--regarding sex, as shown in multiple reports by Tony Hopfinger and Amanda Coyne of the Website and Richard Mauer of the Anchorage Daily News.

Two points and two questions arise based on this blogger’s experiences. As an assistant district attorney for the Alaska Department of Law, I spent a lot of time prosecuting people for committing sexual offenses against minors. I also spent years working in and around the Alaska State Legislature, and I recognize that public corruption is bad for our people, our government, and our society. As I have watched the progress of the federal government’s POLAR PEN probe into Alaska public corruption, I have been bothered by the crimes and seamy behavior of various Alaska powerbrokers and by the mistakes made by various federal investigators and prosecutors in examining those crimes.

The first point is that I don’t believe that Allen’s decision to cooperate with federal authorities in the POLAR PEN public corruption probe played no role in the Justice Department’s decision not to prosecute him. It’s frequently true that cooperating witnesses get concessions in charges and sentences based on their cooperation with prosecutors. The second point is that “the facts” and “the principles that we have to apply” that Holder referenced might be interpreted to include the value of the information and cooperation that cooperating witnesses have to offer.

My questions are for Sen. Murkowski:

1. Is it rich for you complain about excessively soft treatment for a “wealthy guy with the political connections” when Bill Allen’s biggest political connection by far was with Ted Stevens?

2. When will you start pressing the Attorney General to explain why the federal government has not prosecuted Ben Stevens, the former President of the Alaska State Senate whom Bill Allen pleaded guilty to bribing?

No comments: