Earmark if You Believe in Ferries

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A "bridge to nowhere" won't pass muster anymore, but a boat to nowhere? Hey, that's worth trying. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), perhaps attempting to distract attention from his other scandals, has stuck a $20 million earmark into defense spending legislation to fund a ferry that looks to benefit no one so much as his scandal-tainted friends and former staffers who have development interests in the area the ferry would serve (Roll Call, sub req.).

From Roll Call's John Stanton:


Although the earmark, which is listed in the bill as funding for an “expeditionary craft,” is set to go to the Navy, the ship ultimately will be used as a commercial ferry between Anchorage and the Knik Arm, a remote point of land which takes more than two hours to reach by car but around 15 minutes by boat, according to published reports and planning documents by the local Alaska borough, Matanuska-Susitna.

[. . .]


According to published accounts, the Navy rejected the vessel in 2002 as impractical. Nonetheless, Stevens has continued funding it, inserting nearly $50 million for the project into appropriation bills from 2002 to 2006.

Several current and former members of Stevens’ staff — including Chief of Staff George Lowe and former top aide Lisa Sutherland — as well as Rep. Don Young’s (R-Alaska) son-in-law Art Nelson own undeveloped land on the Knik Arm.

Stevens friends and associates and their assorted business interests control hundreds of thousands of dollars of land on Knik Arm which is ripe for development.

The process of earmarking is under increasing scrutiny, as is the Alaskan congressional delegation as details of the Veco bribery scandal come out. Just how untouchable does Sen. Stevens think he is?