The Reel Story?

From The American Spectator ( 😮 yeah, I said The American Spectator! I am just as surprised as you are!):

The tin-foil-hat crowd was almost immediately pushing a Jack Abramoff angle to the surprise resignation of Sen. Trent Lott. But a more recent scandal brewing — which has already ensnared Sen. Ted Stevens, among others — may also be playing on Lott’s mind.

Lott, Stevens, as well as Rep. Dennis Hastert all have ties to Bill Allen, a larger than life Alaskan businessman who owned Veco, an oil-field services company, and who was a huge benefactor of Republican politicians. Between 1980 and 2000, Allen, Veco executives and Allen’s friends generated more than $1 million in political donations.

From Think Progress:

Allen has pleaded guilty to bribing Alaska legislators, including Ben Stevens, the son of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK). The elder Stevens is currently the target of multiple federal investigation, including one on his ties to Veco.

Lott continues to stand by Stevens, donating $5,000 from his political action committee to Stevens’s re-election campaign. Lott also has ties to Allen, who accompanied him to the lavish annual “Waterfall Fishing Tournament” in Alaska. Since 1996, at least 10 current and former lawmakers have attended the trip, an opportunity for “the energy industry’s top brass” to influence lawmakers.

Original DVD cover.

From America RadioWorks:

A series of media investigations in the early 1990s focused public attention on charity fundraisers where members of Congress skied, fished and golfed with corporate lobbyists. Politicians attended these events for free in the name of raising money for a good cause. Critics saw these events differently, arguing that they allowed for unseemly influence peddling by special interests.

In 1996 both the House and Senate passed new ethics restrictions banning their members from accepting free trips to recreational charity fundraisers. But at least one of these events continued with business as usual: the Waterfall Fishing Tournament.


Marketplace identified 10 current and former members of Congress who have taken part in Waterfall charity over the last decade. These lawmakers are allowed to attend as long as the charity does not pay for travel or lodging associated with the event. Some lawmakers used Political Action Committee or campaign funds to pay for at least part of their trips — others simply ignored the rules — still others did not disclose the trips either on campaign reports or in Congressional travel disclosures. Only one, Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, has said he paid for the trip personally.

I bet you kids are wondering who the other 9 were. Well wonder no more! Here they are (also from American RadioWorks):

Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Il., appears in photos at the Waterfall Fishing Tournament in 1999 and 2000. Hastert’s office did not answer repeated questions about who paid for those trips, which were not disclosed in congressional travel reports.


Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., appears in photos at the Waterfall Fishing Tournament in 2000. Lott’s office did not respond to repeated questions about who paid for this trip, which was not disclosed in congressional travel reports.


Former Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, and his wife were instrumental in creating the Waterfall Fishing Tournament. Frank Murkowski declined to comment for this story. Nancy Murkowski now serves on the charity’s board of directors. Former Sen. Murkowski used his leadership PAC to pay for travel expenses for several members of Congress to travel to Alaska for the event. Marketplace could not find any record that Murkowski’s PAC or his campaign paid for lodging at the Resort. The charity spends about $200,000 a year on its fishing tournament, according to the group’s tax returns. An official from the charity told Marketplace it pays the entire cost for renting Waterfall Resort. Mrs. Murkowski told Marketplace most lawmakers who attend reimbursed the charity for lodging. She and other board members declined to provide any details about who paid these expenses.


Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., has attended the fishing tournament at least five times in the last eight years. Bond appears in photos at the Waterfall Fishing Tournament in 1998, 1999 and 2000. These trips were not previously disclosed in congressional travel reports.


Sen. Michael Enzi, R-Wy., attended the Waterfall Fishing Tournament in 2004. He filed a congressional travel disclosure form saying the charity paid for his travel to the event. On that form, Enzi stated the purpose of the trip was to deliver a speech. After questions from Marketplace, Enzi’s office acknowledged he appears to have accepted travel and lodging expenses in violation of Senate rules.


Former Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, appears in photos at the Waterfall Fishing Tournament in 2000. Gramm filed a congressional travel disclosures stating “Waterfall 2000” paid $4,000 in lodging, food and related expenses for himself and his son.


Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., appears in photos at the Waterfall Fishing Tournament in 1999. That October, Sen. Murkowski’s leadership PAC, Americans for Sound Energy Policy, paid Sen. Cochran more than $2,000.


Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, appears in photos at the Waterfall Fishing Tournament in 1999. When Marketplace contacted Craig’s office, his staff said the charity, the Waterfall Committee, paid the entire cost of the trip. Later, after conferring with board members at the Waterfall Committee, Craig’s office told Marketplace the charity told them Craig personally paid for lodging to attend the event, but they could only locate a $227 payment from the senator to cover his expenses there.

A spokesperson for Senator Craig reported that the $227 payment were tips for the bathroom attendant. Okay! I made that part up. 😛 Let’s continue…

Former Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., appears in photos at the Waterfall Fishing Tournament in 1999. Sen. Murkowski’s leadership PAC, Americans for Sound Energy Policy, paid Nickles’ PAC, The Republican Majority Fund, more than $1,000 for travel expenses in August of that year.

Something smells awfully stinky, and I don’t think it’s the fish!


Filed under Alaska, Ben Stevens, Bill Allen, Daniel Akaka, Dennis Hastert, Frank Murkowski, humor, Jack Abramoff, Kit Bond, Larry Craig, Michael Enzi, movies, parody, politics, Republicans, Senate, snark, Ted Stevens, Thad Cochran, Trent Lott, VECO, Wordpress Political Blogs

5 responses to “The Reel Story?

  1. Friend of the court

    “Any fish bites, if you got good bait”.
    I’m wondering what charity has benefited from the generosity of these fine Americans.

  2. nonnie9999

    i sure hope this story catches on and keeps going and going. there are so many fish movies. i couldn’t decide which one to use first. it would be very charitable to me if a lot more dirt is turned up on the fine folks at veco and waterfall.

  3. nightowl724

    They’re going to need a big pan to fry all those fish – and I’m talking about the smelly ones, the ones with gall instead of gills! Or maybe they could boil them and make chowder…assuming (and wishing) that’s hot water they’re in. Stick a fork in them. I hope they’re done (for).

    Please remember to clean your hands with lemon after handling these stinky creatures on your cool covers, nonnie.

  4. nonnie9999

    no worries, nightowl. i boiled my hands afterwards. i am now watching the rerun of the rethug “debate” (as opposed to de bait), so i will be boiling my eyes as well.

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