The prosecution just rested in the Ted Stevens trial, in which he is accused of accepting $250,000 worth of free renovations to his house from VECO, an oil pipeline company. VECO workers labored for months remodeling Stevens' home at the company's expense.
The Palin's two-story, four bedroom, four bath home on Lake Lucille is worth $552,000. "Todd Palin built the house with friends who were contractors, he said in a recent television interview."
At the same time the mighty Todd was building the house, the Wasilla Sports Complex was under construction right down the road. Just who were these "friends who were contractors" who did such a huge favor for the Palins by building their house for them? Was it payback for the sports complex contracts? Wayne Barrett of the Village Voice asks the question, below the fold.
I posted this question last week but I believe it deserves a second look in light of the corruption uncovered in Troopergate and the Stevens trial. Todd's explanation, I built the house with the help of a few buddies, defies belief. Todd! You're a fisherman, a snomobile champion, an oil worker, a caribou hunter, a government operative, AND a plumber, electrician, mason, carpenter? Wow! You are one Super Dude.
Wayne Barrett reports that after the $12.5 million Wasilla Sports Complex was approved, the design contract went to architect Blase Burkhart, "son of Roy Burkhart, who is frequently described as a "mentor" of Palin and was head of the local Republican Party." Roy Burkhart was also a Palin campaign contributor. Palin then appointed Blase Burkhart to the builder-selection committee, which awarded the construction contract to "Howdie Inc., a mostly residential contractor owned at the time by Howard Nugent." Nugent was a Palin campaign contributor, also.
What happened next is rather curious. Here's Barrett:
A list of subcontractors on the [sports complex] job, obtained by the Voice, includes many with Palin ties. One was Spenard Builders Supply, the state's leading supplier of wood, floor, roof, and other "pre-engineered components." In addition to being a sponsor of Todd Palin's snow-machine team that has earned tens of thousands for the Palin family, Spenard hired Sarah Palin to do a statewide television commercial in 2004. When the Palins began building a new family home off Lake Lucille in 2002—at the same time that Palin was running for lieutenant governor and in her final months as mayor—Spenard supplied the materials, according to Antoine Bricks, who works in its Wasilla office. Spenard actually filed a notice "of its right to assert a lien" on the deed for the Palin property after contracting for labor and materials for the site. Spenard's name has popped up in the trial of Senator Stevens—it worked on the house that is at the center of the VECO scandal as well.
Todd Palin told Fox News that he built the two-story, 3,450-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bath, wood house himself, with the help of contractors he described as "buddies." As mayor, Sarah Palin blocked an effort to require the filing of building permits in the wide-open city, and there is no public record of who the "buddies" were. The house was built very near the complex, on a site whose city purchase led to years of unsuccessful litigation and, now, $1.3 million in additional costs, with a law firm that's also donated to Palin collecting costly fees from the city.
Dorwin and Joanne Smith, the principals of complex subcontractor DJ Excavation & Development, have donated $7,100 to Palin and her allied candidate Charlie Fannon (Joanne is a Palin appointee on the state Board of Nursing). Sheldon Ewing, who owns another complex subcontractor, Weld Air, has donated $1,300, and PN&D, an engineering firm on the complex, has contributed $699.
Ewing was one of the few sports-complex contractors, aside from Spenard, willing to address the question of whether he worked on the house as well, but he had little to say: "I doubt that it occurred, but if it did indirectly, how would I know anyhow?" The odd timing of Palin's house construction—it was completed two months before she left City Hall and while she and Todd Palin were campaigning statewide for the first time—raises questions, especially considering its synergy with the complex.
What an unusual situation. Giant construction contracts are being awarded to campaign contributors at the same time that "buddies" who just happen to be contractors are "helping" Todd build their two-story house. At the same time Sarah ensures there will be no public record of building permits. WTF? How is this different from the Stevens situation?
We need to know:
Who Built Sarah Palin's House?
UPDATE Thanks for the recs! And thanks to mcyrhul for the DIGG link.
Here is Todd's interview with Fox where he describes building the house.