Norm Coleman donors plead guilty to bribery, will Norm return the money?
Two of Senator Norm Coleman's (R-MN) donors have recently pled guilty to bribing elected officials. Bill Allen, CEO of VECO Corp, and Rick Smith, a VP of VECO Corp, have both given Norm's reelection campaign $1,000. Allen and Smith just pled guilty to bribing Alaskan elected officials with more than $400,000 in a scandal that is rocking Alaskan politics. VECO Corp. is based in Anchorage.
The bribes were given in exchange for support on pipeline and oil tax legislation. The guilty pleas came after charges were brought against three Alaskan Republican politicians:
- "Two corporate executives have admitted to bribing several Alaskan lawmakers with hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal benefits in exchange for official acts being taken on their behalf," said Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the [Alaskan] Criminal Division.
The two executives will likely provide important testimony in the cases of three state legislators charged with extortion and bribery in federal court last week -- and the two anonymous state senators implicated in their guilty pleas.
As reported by Paul on Friday, the indictment alleges a classic cash-for-votes corruption scheme. One of the legislators, Pete Kott, met with Allen in the executive’s hotel suite where he complained about having “to cheat, steal, beg, borrow and lie,” to ensure government-backing of a pipeline valuable to Veco. In response to the legislator’s complaints, Allen said: “I own your ass.”
Allen and Smith are major Republican donors and Coleman has a history of switching his votes when pressured by corporate lobbyists. You may recall that he stated that his vote for ANWR was for sale ... the price was a coal gasification plant.
- Hoyt Lakes, Minn. — The 1,000-megawatt Mesabi Energy Project would be the largest power plant of its kind, using what's called coal gasification technology. The process doesn't burn coal -- it turns it into a gas that fires the power plant's boilers.
Sen. Coleman has indicated he will vote for an energy bill that allows oil exploration in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, if the bill also includes hundreds of millions of dollars for the new Mesabi Energy power plant.
When he campaigned for Senate last year, Coleman said he would not support oil drilling in the refuge.
So ... will Norm do the right thing and return these donations?