DECEMBER 22, 2008
The criminal conviction of the nation’s most powerful Republican senator has severely impacted the profits of several Washington firms that raked in millions of dollars to lobby the disgraced lawmaker with decades of seniority on various crucial committees.
When Alaska’s Ted Stevens, the longest serving Republican in the U.S. Senate, failed to get reelected last month after being convicted of multiple felony corruption charges, it translated into a major loss for an entire industry of well-known lobbying firms with close ties to him. A Senate fixture since 1968, Stevens wielded enormous power over several lucrative industries—communications, aviation and the military—and several firms specialized in lobbying him.
Not surprisingly, the firms are stacked with well-connected people who once worked on Stevens’ Senate staff. They have made tens of millions of dollars to lobby their former boss, according to a news report that says his reelection loss was like the “closing of the plant in a company town.”
The story points out that, lobbyists known primarily for their ties to Stevens, reported more than $60 million in fees in the last few years, not including other income for different types of “consulting.” The most recent Stevens’ staffer turned lobbyist made nearly $1 million in the last 18 months alone.
The gravy train certainly came to an abrupt halt when Stevens got convicted of corruption for trying to hide hundreds of thousands of dollars—including a major home renovation—in gifts from an oil company seeking lucrative government contracts as well as favorable legislation. After a month-long trial, the jury deliberated for only five hours before convicting Stevens in late October.
The 84-year-old legislator confidently ran for reelection a few weeks later, sounding a bit delusional for publicly saying that he had not been convicted of anything. A Harvard-trained lawyer and former federal prosecutor, Stevens initially blamed prosecutorial misconduct for the unjust verdict and assured that he would serve Alaskans effectively while he appealed the case. Voters sent him a message, however, and booted him from office. His demise brought down a chunk of the elite lobbying industry.
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