From NBC's Doug Adams
In Alaska, they call it "Stevens' money" -- the billions in federal grants, contracts and largesse that Sen. Ted Stevens has steered to Alaska over the last 40 years. But "Stevens' money" on Capitol Hill isn't so popular anymore apparently.
In a sign that his support within the party may be slipping, at least four GOP senators in tough re-election campaigns have announced they will give away political contributions made by Stevens' political action committee (PAC).
Through his "Northern Lights" PAC, Stevens has made more than $340,000 in campaign contributions this campaign cycle, including donations to every Republican senator up for reelection in 2008. He's given $5,000 to John McCain's campaign for president ... and $10,000 to his fellow embattled Alaskan, Rep. Don Young.
JOHN SUNUNU (R-NH) -- Yesterday, Sununu's campaign, locked in a tough re-election battle with former NH governor Jeanne Shaheeen, announced it would donate to charity the $10,000 it received from Stevens PAC. Previously it has given away other contributions it received from convicted VECO employees in 2007.
ELIZABETH DOLE (R-NC) -- Dole's campaign was the first to announce yesterday afternoon it would donate $10,000 that it received from Northern Lights PAC to charity -- the Soc. of St. Andrew, a Christian ministry dedicated to feeding America's hungry. Dole is battling a well funded Democratic opponent -- Kay Hagan.
GORDON SMITH (R-OR) -- Smith's campaign announced yesterday it would donate to charity the $10,000 it received from Steven's leadership PAC. Smith has received nearly $40,000 from Stevens in contributions over the years, and Smith's PAC has contributed to Stevens' re-election campaign.
SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME) -- Collins' campaign announced yesterday it would give to charity the $10,000 it received from Northern Lights this cycle. The campaign said it had not decided on the charity yet. Collins also received $10,000 from Stevens in 2002 ... and her Dirigio PAC in turn contributed $5,000 to Stevens that year.
NORM COLEMAN (R-MN) is in a tough re-election race with former comedian Al Franken. He announced yesterday that he had NOT made a decision on returning the $10,000 that Stevens' PAC contributed to his campaign. Stevens' also has contributed another $10,000 to Coleman's PAC in this cycle. Interestingly, Coleman was the first member of Congress to give away contributions from Sen. Larry Craig's PAC -- $2,500 -- when Craig was arrested for public indecency last year.
PAT ROBERTS -- Pat Roberts just happens to be a member of the Senate Ethics committee, which could investigate Stevens soon. His re-election campaign has received a total of $10,000 in contributions from Stevens' PAC -- a $5,000 contribution in March of last year, and another $5,000 donation in January. Roberts' office declined to answer questions about the matter, and his campaign to date has not announced whether it will return the contributions. *** UPDATE *** Roberts' campaign spokeswoman Molly Haase tells First Read that Roberts instructed the campaign yesterday to give more than $19,000 -- dating back to 2001 -- to several Kansas charities, though Haase added the campaign is not saying which ones until they've been notified.
JOHN McCAIN -- No word on if McCain's campaign will donate to charity its $5,000 contribution from Stevens' leadership PAC. The contribution was made in early April 2008.
Stevens' PAC has also contributed nearly $30,000 to the Nat'l Republican Senatorial Committee this cycle.
Here are the other senators up for re-election who have gotten contributions from Stevens' PAC this year --
Lamar Alexander -- $10,000
Saxby Chambliss -- $10,000
Jim Inhofe -- $10,000
John Barrasso -- $10,000
Mitch McConnell -- $7,500
Thad Cochran -- $5000
Mike Enzi -- $5,000
Richard Shelby -- $5000
John Cornyn -- $5,000
Roger Wicker -- $5000
Jeff Sessions -- $2,500
The only GOP senator running for re-election who looks like he did NOT get a contribution from Stevens' PAC? -- why that'd be Lindsey Graham.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this post indicated that Sen. Gordon Smith is a proponent of drilling in ANWR. Smith's Senate office e-mailed First Read to say he is not.]