Alaska Justice Probe Hits North Pacific Fisheries
The multi-agency Public Integrity probe grew to new heights as the media turn to "Fisheries" on last Tuesday (September 26, 2006). The Anchorage Daily News announced that Alaska state Senate president Ben Stevens' office had been raided again by a FBI-led squad looking for information that wiggles in the oceans of greed that the North Pacific industry has become. And the first sharks spotted were the Juneau Jackals, Calhoun Avenue Boys, and the Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board - gangs all.
Today, the Seattle Times carried a second story, "Alaska probe turns from oil to fish," which illuminates that "two letters that Stevens wrote to the federal Commerce Department about the Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board" and other evidence was confiscated. As predicted long-ago, now we're underway. So why waste money attending the October Council meeting in the Occupied Territories of Dutch Harbor where the Bonsai profit trimmers are meeting this week?
Maybe some day the "Government Performance and Results Act of 1993," whereby Congress finds that- (1) waste and inefficiency in Federal programs undermine the confidence of the American people in the Government and reduces the Federal Government's ability to address adequately vital public needs;" will be applied as it is for other agricultural cooperators. Paying processors based on fish delivered tickets from salmon fleets are past performances, not a means to marketing for future results-oriented programs. In the meantime, expect the regional fishery councils to start working on implementing improvements based on the Government Accountability Office's critical report on stakeholder input in fisheries. Legislative end-runs are no longer in favor. Would someone please tell Frank Murkowski that, and retract Commissioner McKie Campbell from DC? Or do we have to suffer this abuse for another two months?
Go to Your Room, Until
The night before the Anchorage article about further FBI raids, state senator Gary Stevens introduced us for the first time to the Republican gubernatorial candidate, Sarah Palin. Gary confirmed Senator Kim Elton's hint that there were summons sent out for potential grand jury members, as he knew one person called. He wondered when things might get going on fisheries, and I could only reply, "Maybe tomorrow, maybe a year or so from now." Tomorrow was but a breath away. And I'll bet Bristol Bay salmon fisherwoman Palin snickered when she picked up last Tuesday's paper, too.
But whether or not that particular 18-month grand jury was for fisheries, or not, technically remains to be seen. Grand juries are called all the time. Yet local rumor has it that some members of the squad left for a little rest while others stayed behind in Anchorage to prepare in consort with a team of forensic accountants. Meanwhile, the cronies in the fishing industry will have to go to their rooms, 'until the chief prosecutor gets home.'
And as Larry Davison used to say about teenage shoplifting, "guess which candy bars I know about, sonny." Or rather, guess how much you have to be afraid of, and who told me how much you did, boys.
Metcalfe Staved Off Alaskalachia:
It seems that the most ironic of future events could occur, as once 'outsider' agents take up residency in Alaska and end up collecting Permanent Fund dividend checks, because what this case is centrally about is an attempted 'breaking and entering' of the $35 billion fund by Veco and oil companies. The protectors may end up shielding a few residency checks of their own, since the cases will take many years to prosecute. We expect the media will also take up residency in Anchorage to cover all the trials, too.
If they'd had their way, with Ben Stevens and others' help in the Legislature, Big Oil would have - also in the words of Ray Metcalfe - eventually turned Alaska into an Appalachia North. That is, about thirty years from now the PFD treasure chest would be empty from raiding it to pay for state expenses in order to make up for lower tax structures that governor Murkowski's proposed contracts would accomplish. At the same time the majority of the oil would have been pumped out of the ground, no new sources of revenue would be available to replace them.
So would result from the conflux of book credits and debits a dooming of state economic mountain arches to collapse into an Alaskalachia. But being diligent for over 15 years on the economic limit factor (ELF) and other aspects of oil, and having been on the original PFD conceptualization committee in the Legislature, Ray Metcalfe's recall and exposure efforts of Ben Stevens and other Veco recipients saved the day (the upcoming Century!).
If some of you can come up with $50,000 right now, Ray could 'finish the job' and send several more Veco-recipient incumbents packing tomorrow - before the elections. That would send a final message to all future legislators for all Alaskans: "Don't touch my PFD!"
Protecting Aleut Shareholders - Retraction Unwarranted:
We always find it interesting when the corporations involved in fisheries legislation or who might benefit from it attempt to cast a "chilling effect" on First Amendment protected writings. It's a silly-assed pursuit, especially in the case where our writings are intended to protect the rights of shareholders of Alaska's native corporations who may have errant leadership. Were those shareholders to be duped by some third-party into paying twice as much as a market price for quota shares - an example listed in my last post - then they'd suffer harms.
To be unjustly accused of having 'a malicious intent' to save the shareholders and corporation money, to protect government programs from the unscrupulous, to warn off parties who might be approached to make illicit deals, and to ensure politicians and corporations adhere to laws, is particularly interesting, especially when the writing served as a warning, not an accusation. Here's TDX's lawyer's threatening take after clearly misreading the actual quote, which litigation dreams will be dispelled afterwards.
E-mail: On Tue, 3 Oct 2006 16:36:49 -0800, Terrance Turner wrote:
> "Mr. Taufen: We are the attorneys for Tanadgusix Corporation ("TDX"). In your above-referenced article-which was widely published-you stated as follows:
> "We've already heard rumor that one crab vessel owner who also has processor quota rights is attempting to sell them for double the going market rate (for $8 million instead of $4 million) to the Aleut native corporation Tanadgusix (TDX) in the Pribilof Islands. If that is designed to utilize the grant program and profit exorbitantly in the process, might this also be a fraud under the 'honest services' laws, as well as a misuse of federal funds qualifying for criminal sanctions on multiple levels. Who is brokering such deals and is there is a means of kickback to the Congressional agents involved? Was this the intent of slipping the revised language into the Coast Guard Bill?"
> 'TDX categorically denies that it has negotiated, or is currently negotiating, for the purchase of any "processor quota rights' or to seek any federal grant to do so. Accordingly your information to that effect is categorically false. You have also committed defamation per se against TDX by effectively accusing it of participating in (a) "fraud under the 'honest services' laws, as well as a misuse of federal funds qualifying for criminal sanctions on multiple levels" and (b) making or planning to make a "kickback to the Congressional agents involved."
> 'You have no basis in fact or law for making such accusations-which are patently untrue-- and you are guilty of reckless and/or malicious conduct in doing so without verifying that such allegations are true. Accordingly neither you nor the Alaska Report in which your publication appears has any immunity from TDX' defamation claims under New York Times v. Sullivan and/or its successor case law; and TDX intends to sue you and the Alaska for defamation if you do not unequivocally retract such allegations in the same form(s) and place(s) in which such untrue information was published by you, as well as in all other forms and places (if any) in which you have published such comments."
> Please immediately advise TDX through us within 10 days as to whether you will comply with this demand. If you do not unconditionally agree to do so, TDX intends to proceed with such lawsuit.
> Terrance A. Turner [of] Turner & Mede, P.C.
> CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This transmission (including any attachments) is intended only for the use of the person(s) to whom it is addressed and may contain information that is privileged, confidential, or protected from disclosure. If you are not an intended recipient, please immediately notify the sender by replying to this message, then delete and purge it from your system. The use, disclosure, dissemination, distribution or reproduction of this message or the information in it or attached to it by any unintended recipient is unauthorized, strictly prohibited by the sender, and may be unlawful.
> IRS CIRCULAR 230 DISCLOSURE: The views expressed herein or in any attachments hereto are not intended to constitute a "reliance opinion" under applicable treasury regulations, and accordingly are not intended or written to be used, and may not be used or relied upon, for the purposes of (a) avoiding tax-related penalties that may be imposed by the IRS or (b) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any tax-related matters addressed herein. [end of e-mail]
First, in order to be defamatory, "the language must do more than simply annoy a person or hurt that person's feelings." Generally, the plaintiff has the burden of proof in establishing falsity and the statements must be false. The plaintiff in this case is the alleged seller possessing ill intent, not one of the many prospective buyers who have the capacity to avoid illicitness. There is also no "objectively verifiable false statement of fact," as it is clearly identified as a 'rumor' only, and then a subsequent conditional question of 'if' regards potential intentions ('designed to'), not actual events. In addition, Turner supposed himself to be the judge when stating "you are guilty."
In any case, there is certainly no actual malice or reckless disregard for the truth by 'convincing clarity' or clear and convincing evidence. Quite the contrary - our repeated will is to protect, not harm, and we have no hatred or ill-will toward TDX owner-shareholders. Likewise, it is not the first time Groundswell has looked out for the best interests of native shareholders and the Nation. Your unwarranted request is denied. (But you may want to ask Bobby T if his 'seiners dot net' blogomania might want to become your newest underrepresented client.)
In the 'public official' case TDX's lackey Turner cited, "The [New York] Times did not publish a retraction in response to the demand. Instead it wrote a letter stating, among other things, that "we . . . are somewhat puzzled as to how you think the statements in any way reflect on you," and "you might, if you desire, let us know in what respect you claim that the statements in the advertisement reflect on you". Sullivan didn't respond but instead filed this suit a few days later." Only to be overruled later, as Justice "Brennan writing for a unanimous Court argued that that the 'profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open'. Allowing libel lawsuits in cases like this one, further, would tend to 'chill' future criticism of government officials, even legitimate criticism, for a 'pall of fear and timidity' would fall over speakers, leading to 'self-censorship'."
Second, the last writing also cannot cause a net balance of actual damages, rather it is a means to alert shareholders and management to watch out for approaches for illicit purposes by outsiders, and serves as a benefit to the native corporation (which is comprised not of its leaders, but all of its shareholders), instead. We helped you free of charge! And there would be the additional question of how one can cause actual injury or special damages to a corporation when the funds and programs referred to are governmental, and the prevention of harms against taxpayers and the sovereignty of the Nation take precedence?
There is also the matter of Supreme Court protections in the public vortex where "erroneous statement is inevitable in free debate" and other concerns, relevant most of all to public officials. And if there was one clear subject of our writing, it was Don Young's lobbyist-language and the process of earmarks so that lobbyists or others may benefit while harming the Public. And then there is the matter of potential corporate malfeasance, where an official might intentionally perform an act that is illegal. Are you telling us that you suspect TDX managers, who have since tucked under a legal skirt?
Warning of the potential for malfeasance regarding the Coast Guard Bill clause is legally acceptable, right? With the warning in place, even nonfeasance was or can be avoided - the failure to act even though a duty to act existed. Likewise, this writing also served to put the National Marine Fisheries Services' Financial Services Branch and all potential quota deal selling brokers on notice to proceed with watchful eyes, and with adherence to open market forces instead of working out arbitrarily established quota prices. That is especially true if there might be an attempt by various sellers to manipulate the market by establishing early high prices, thus harming both native corporations and the government. There is also the matter of other native organizations that are not eligible under the Bill to be harmed were those qualifying to suffer such harms. Fraud vitiates all that follows. Discrimination against native corporations not named in the bill also stands out.
What may be of greatest concern here is that the U.S. Attorney Office in Anchorage might pick back up the issue of 44 counts of unprosecuted harms regarding Adak and its fisheries and other businesses. TDX's 'primary' contact their lawyer copied on the e-mail, Ron Philemonoff, was at times involved at Adak or the Aleut Corporation during the period, so it makes one wonder, was the e-mail designed to serve another purpose? Or was it designed to satisfy Don Young? That is, was this because we also wrote about the $2 million tax fraud return that Young gave the Aleuts in an earmark?
What is really going on here? If we were sued, it would only open the books up to the entire matter - and everyone would get to see what CDQ deals are in the works regarding the Bill's (and other) subsequent (and prior) dealings. Did I also forget the part about not suing turnips? But we thank Mr. Turner for his half-cocked e-mail. We also can't accept his denial because we never 'accused', despite the attempt to trowel-dig that presumption. But some readers are probably glad you are not seeking any grants, which means no one is selling quota to your corporation, most likely. Thanks for the clarification about possible events, as it adds to the public dialogue here in the vortex of fisheries.
Next time, please consider sending us a nice "thank you" note "for having advised TDX shareholders of the possibilities of quota-price rigging schemes that could harm us," instead. By publishing your incorrect legal prattle, you got an audience for your version, so please be satisfied - as the readers and government will hold your corporation to it! And next time, we'll probably charge you for the unambiguous advertising.
The squad of DOJ Public Integrity readers in Virginia is likely having a good laugh today, along with the LMSB and CID units of the IRS. And we apologize to them if we have in any way prevented them from stinging a few folks who were trying to follow Don Young's Way and lead an ox across the Bridge to Leavenworth. But there is a new groundswell riding Marshall in fish town this past decade - a slew of private attorneys general surfing the Web on long boards off Alaska's coast, because you can't really surf in Iowa, Hawkeye.
Before I write about the underlying issue of the $200 million "earmark" of directed loans, it may also be instructional to know that our heart and soul on this matter derive from Mosaic Law, as does modern libel and defamation law. Thus, for the benefit of all readers, especially a certain few in Southeast Alaska, we take you back to the warming words of Exodus 23.
"Thou shalt not receive the voice of a lie: neither shalt thou join thy hand to bear false witness for a wicked person. Thou shalt not follow the multitude to do evil: neither shalt thou yield in judgment, to the opinion of the most part, to stray from the truth. If thou meet thy enemy's ox or ass going astray, bring it back to him. If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lie underneath his burden, thou shalt not pass by, but shalt lift him up with him. Thou shalt fly lying. The innocent and just person thou shalt not put to death: because I abhor the wicked. Neither shalt thou take bribes, which even blind the wise, and pervert the words of the just. Thou shalt not enter into league with them, nor with their gods." Et cum spiritu tuo! Something $200 Million Wrong in Fisheries:
While Kodiak erupted last year over the inclusion of crab-cap busting clauses in the Coast Guard Bill, H.R. 889, and the City demanded and got a language change from congressman Young, little mention was made of the real nefarious and highly-discriminatory language in the bill regarding quota sales. It is the basis for the very type of attempt discussed above, and in our last article.
In the House Resources bill 2862 - Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006 - under Fisheries Finance Program Account, the costs of direct loans under the Merchant Marine Act of 1936 were established for IFQ loans and other fishing needs. H.R. 889, the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2006, changed that for Section 416 Western Alaska Community Development Quota Program needs, under Loan Subsidies, by raising the amount. Public Law 109-108; 119 Stat. 2311-2312 was amended, and the new language reads "to subsidize gross obligations for the principal amount of direct loans, not to exceed a total of $200,000,000, and [for] the purchase of all or part of ownership interests in fishing or processing vessels, shoreside fish processing facilities, permits, quotas, and cooperative rights."
Maybe Mr. Turner was disputing our example because we only used the word quota, not processing vessels or other means of obtaining historical quota rights. Who know, as that rests in TDX minds, not ours?
It must be a considerable surprise to other native corporations, as well as state licensed cities and boroughs across Alaska, to discover that only certain native villages or organizations are included in the Bill's authority. It really does burrow down to who one's lobbyists are, doesn't it? And Mr. Don Young wants your continued vote in November. Please, someone check out his campaign coffers.
No, it is time to vote the scoundrel out! And for the Cities of Kodiak, Homer, King Cove, Sand Point and beyond to write Congressional leaders on both sides of the political aisle, to call for a halt to all such direct loans. And to call for a halt to the Rockfish non-pilot (i.e. catch-history setting scheme) demonstration program, and to stop MSA Reauthorization itself from occurring in this Congress. After all, this week, President Bush called for an end to bottom-trawling and better dealing with Illegal, Underreported and Unregulated (IUU) fisheries.
It is time to throw the bums and their calculated congressional vote and earmark trading schemes out on their lobbyist-filled wallets. And borrowing from a Harley-Rider bathroom wall quote, "Vote like it's been stolen!" It has been, by lobbyists, greedy corporations, and politicians who cared not for the People.
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Ted Stevens and Don Young Fail to Provide 'Honest Services' - A comprehensive update:
FBI raids Alaska Legislators
Alaska Senate president Ben Stevens has accepted bribes from seafood processors, according to Ray Metcalfe, Chairman of the Republican Moderate Party 6/26/06
FBI raids Alaska Legislators
Don Young involved in shady Florida land deal, Alaska Congressman helps developer after fundraiser
A public watchdog and advocate for fishermen and their coastal communities. Taufen is an "insider" who blew the whistle on the international profit laundering between global affiliates of North Pacific seafood companies, who use illicit accounting to deny the USA the proper taxes on seafood trade. The same practices are used to lower ex-vessel prices to the fleets, and to bleed monies from our regional economy. Contact Stephen Taufen
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