Oil Scandal, Larry Flynt Investigation Led to Trent Lott's Early Exit

News & Politics
This post, written by Amanda Terkel, originally appeared on Think Progress

Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) refuses to say why he is retiring from Congress. Many in the media have reported that Lott likely wants to enter the lucrative world of K Street before "tougher restrictions in a new lobbying law" take effect.

But the right-wing American Spectator magazine speculates that brewing corruption scandals may have contributed to Lott's decision:
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.
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.
In addition to the lawmakers, high-ranking executives from the nation's top oil firms -- including Allen -- attended the Waterfall excursions. Companies with business before Congress occasionally provided free trips to Waterfall for lawmakers and top executives on private company jets. Lawmakers may have violated congressional ethics rules by not paying for the trips. Marketplace, which originally reported on the event, noted that it could find no PAC, personal, or campaign payments for the trip from Lott.

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