WASHINGTON (AP) -- Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, who has a bit of a reputation on Capitol Hill as a big spender, was recognized this week for his fiscal restraint.
Stevens was awarded the ''Golden Bulldog'' this week, which was presented by Watchdogs of the Treasury, a nonprofit organization run by a 10-member board of directors headed by C. Manly Molpus, president of the Grocery Manufacturers of America.
Stevens received the award from the business group as Congress approved spending bills in which the Republican chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee directed another $100 million northward to Alaska.
The irony was not wasted on Stevens and his staff.
''The award is for my actions in protecting the taxpayers of the United States,'' Stevens told reporters Friday. ''I don't want you giggling.''
Forty-nine senators, including Alaska's junior senator, Frank Murkowski, were presented with Golden Bulldog awards for their good judgment on taxation and spending issues. In the House, 152 members received the award, but Alaska's Don Young was not among them.
Watchdogs of the Treasury turns to Graham Molitor, an analyst with Public Policy Forecasting who looks at congressional votes and floor speeches, for advice on who should receive the award.
Molitor said that anyone associated with the spending committee is at risk of getting tagged as a big spender because spending money is what they do.
But after analyzing years of votes and dozens if not hundreds of speeches on the House and Senate floors, Molitor said he has a pretty good idea of which members of Congress are truly frugal.
Molitor said Stevens supports things like requiring a supermajority vote in Congress to enact a tax increase and passage of a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget.
Stevens is so conscientious, Molitor said, that in 1995 to 1996, before he was Appropriations Committee chairman, the senator racked up 103 points out of a possible 100 because he was awarded ''exemplary bonus points.''
Stevens said he never has appropriated money beyond the amounts that are included in budget directives. Besides, Alaska has long been left off the nation's budget priorities list and the attention he is bringing to the state restores the balance, he said.
The senator said he takes great pride in the seven Golden Bulldogs he has received.
''It shows that the people who criticize us don't know what they are talking about,'' he said. ''I have a conservative approach with the concepts of spending, and within those concepts we find our money for Alaska.''
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