WASHINGTON — Late last year, Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, a former member of the Capital Yacht Club in Southwest Washington and an excellent boater, was buying a fine, used 38-foot Chris Craft motorboat and looking to rejoin the most exclusive club and moor the boat there.
But even though the powerful Stevens had been a club member — and this was long before the FBI raided his home and wine cellar in Alaska as part of a corruption investigation — he still needed to go through the regular admissions process.
Part of that process required him to be sponsored by two members in good standing. But who? Ah, of course, his good buddy and Senate colleague, Larry E. Craig, R-Idaho, who keeps a 42-foot Bertram yacht there, and Elizabeth M. Conway, Craig’s former aide who’s now an energy lobbyist in the D.C. office of Boston-based law firm Sullivan & Worcester.
“I have known Ted Stevens for almost ten years,” Conway wrote on the sponsoring form, “and know him to be an avid and enthusiastic boater. He will be an excellent addition to the club.”
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Craig, according to documents obtained by our colleague Alice Crites, wrote that Stevens was a “former member of YC, experienced boater, great guy and long time friend.”
No word from Stevens’ office as to whether the sponsorship got him into the club.
And when FBI agents, with TV cameras in tow, raided Stevens’s home in late July, Craig was his most forceful defender, blasting the bureau for using “Gestapo-like tactics.” Craig said Stevens had offered the FBI a key, but the agency got a locksmith in a bit of “gamesmanship” for the cameras.
“That is very intimidating,” he told the Politico on Aug. 1, the day he signed off on his own plea agreement to disorderly conduct in that airport bathroom.
But when news of the incident leaked last week, Stevens could not return the favor, telling the Associated Press that he had asked his lawyers about it, “and they advise that I make no comments about any investigations right now.”
Probably a good idea.
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But it’s not that Craig is friendless.
The American Land Rights Association has launched a boycott of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and Northwest Airlines, which has its main hub there, because the police there “ambushed” Craig, a “stand up guy” and a staunch ally of the private property advocacy group.
Craig was the victim of possibly illegal “profiling,” ALRA Executive Director Chuck Cushman said in an e-mail to supporters, “and they must apologize” to him.
By their actions, the airport police “are primarily responsible for greatly weakening private property rights … advocates on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee,” Cushman said. So “we are urging you to make all your flight arrangements avoiding the (airport) for at least the next year and probably longer,” and to urge everyone you know “to try to avoid any flights” through there.
Airline travel hasn’t been tough enough lately.