In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Everybody Wins In Two Senate Dems' Public Feud

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AP Photo

Both sides win: McCaskill assumes the oversight role that the former state auditor relishes, and Begich gets to publicly fight on behalf of a popular program back home.

In his letter sent Tuesday, Begich took a more conciliatory approach. "If your principle goal is to initiate a pathway for Congress to act on contracting reform, let's work together to do so for the entire federal government," he wrote, "rather than continuing to hone in on a single program that is delivering essential economic benefits as intended."

McCaskill's office had previously declined to respond to Begich's public rebuke. But asked by TPM about the letter, McCaskill called her colleague a "problem" in a prepared statement. Though, to Alaska's voters, he might not sound like much of a problem at all.

“I’ve fought for six years to change the law in regard to Alaska Native Corporations," she said in the statement. "There has consistently been one problem—Mark Begich. He single-handedly protects Alaska and the ANCs.”

McCaskill first raised questions about ANC's, businesses entities set up to benefit native Alaskan tribes and bequeathed with unique benefits for federal contracting bids, in 2009. After a 2010 Washington Post investigation that found benefits were not reaching the intended population, she introduced legislation to effectively gut those contracting perks. The bill never made it past the committee stage.

Back in 2010, Begich portrayed the McCaskill bill as "misguided" and "misinformed." The feud then reappeared on the public stage last week when McCaskill sent her letter to the SBA, and Begich released his scathing public statement.

Now McCaskill's "problem" retort might be enough keep things going.

About The Author

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Dylan Scott is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He previously reported for Governing magazine in Washington, D.C., and the Las Vegas Sun. His work has been recognized with a 2013 American Society of Business Publication Editors award for Best Feature Series and a 2010 Associated Press Society of Ohio award for Best Investigative Reporting. He can be reached at dylan@talkingpointsmemo.com.