The trial of VECO Corp. CEO Bill Allen in Alaska is pretty much a case-study on the corrupting influence of money in politics. Admitting he used campaign cash to advance the careers of sympathetic legislators -- and rewarded them for a job well done -- Allen is all the evidence we need for a Clean Elections alternative.
Here, from the AP's Matt Apuzzo, are the grim details of VECO's (likely very illegal) incentive program for lawmakers:
VECO founder Bill Allen and former company vice president Rick Smith have pleaded guilty to bribing public officials. They also admitted running a company "special bonus program" that steered money to favored candidates, violated federal tax laws and sent untold amounts of corporate money into political coffers.
Testifying recently at a corruption trial in Anchorage, Alaska, Allen said his generosity was aimed at oil-friendly lawmakers and candidates. "If they're working with the oil industry, I'd like to help with their campaigns," he said.
From 1993 until the FBI approached them last year, Allen and Smith donated more than $200,000 to federal political causes. Their employees donated twice that amount, according to an analysis of campaign finance data from the Federal Election Commission and the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
VECO spread their money around to the campaigns of President Bush and several members of Congress, many of whom are debating what to do with the money. Alaska's congressional delegation is swimming in VECO cash and while Sens. Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski have directed some VECO money to charity they're still holding on to sizable donations from VECO employees. Rep. Don Young hasn't returned a dime from either the company or the employees. Either he thinks Bill Allen is admitting to bribery just to get attention, or he's the guy in Airplane staring out the window and growling "that's just what they'll be expecting us to do!"