Stevens leaves behind big lobbyist ties

Dec. 22, 2008 at 7:34 AM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska will leave behind a virtual industry of lobbyists devoted solely to him when he exits the Senate next month, observers say.

Alaskan voters defeated Stevens's bid for re-election last month in favor of Democratic challenger Mark Begich, just days after a Washington jury convicted Stevens of federal ethics violations. With 40 years of seniority, he is a longtime powerful figure on the Senate's appropriations and commerce committees, which govern federal spending and business regulation.

An entire group of lobbyists -- including several ex-Stevens aides and with many solely devoted to gaining access to him -- will disappear with the Republican's departure from Washington, The New York Times reported Monday.

The newspaper said during the past five years, nine lobbyists and firms known mostly for their ties to Stevens reported more than $60 million in direct lobbyist fees.

"One of the things that made a Stevens lobbyist so valuable is that he could deliver," Ross Baker, a Rutgers University political scientist, told the Times. "When somebody who had his ear said something would happen, it usually happened. You could really trade on it. It was the coin of the realm."

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