Democrats are hoping to make some of the oily scandal swirling around Alaska's Ted Stevens stick to his fellow Republican Sen. Gordon Smith.
Stevens, 84, who has been in the Senate since 1968 and is the longest-serving Republican senator in US history, was indicted yesterday on seven felony counts accusing him of failing to disclose more than $250,000 worth of gifts from the VECO Oil Corp., an oil field contractor, including a Land Rover and extensive renovations to his house. Stevens says he did nothing wrong and intends to fight the charges.
The Jeff Merkley campaign immediately demanded that Smith give away the "tainted" money the Oregon senator received from Stevens' Northern Lights PAC, and Smith's campaign promptly announced it would give the $10,000 Smith got from the PAC in 2007 to an unspecified charity or charities. But Merkley is insisting Smith should give away the entire $39,000 Smith has gotten from Stevens' PAC over the years.
And there's another Smith-Stevens connection: Britten Chase of politicker.com did some digging in Federal Elections Commission records and discovered that Smith's PAC, Impact America, gave $10,000 in campaign money to Stevens on June 27, 2007 - which was 20 days after Stevens admitted to the Washington Post that he was being investigated by the FBI.
"Calls to Smith's campaign were not immediately returned," Chase writes.