JULY 29, 2008
The nation’s longest serving Republican senator, Ted Stevens of Alaska, has been indicted for hiding hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts from an oil company seeking lucrative government contracts as well as favorable legislation.
A 27-page indictment says Alaska’s most powerful political figure “knowingly and intentionally sought to conceal and cover up his receipt of things of value by filing Financial Disclosure Forms that contained false statements and omissions.” Stevens is charged with seven counts of making false statements on his Senate financial disclosure forms from 199 to 2006.
Last summer his home was raided by more than a dozen federal agents gathering evidence in a widespread corruption probe involving several bribed legislators. Two major oil company executives and a lobbyist have already pleaded guilty to bribery, conspiracy and federal corruption charges and have cooperated with the vast investigation which has focused on Stevens and a handful of prominent Alaska state lawmakers.
The operators of the huge oil services company called VECO have admitted paying nearly half a million dollars in bribes to various Alaska lawmakers. In return the public officials helped VECO obtain tens of millions of dollars in federal contracts as well as legislation favorable to the titan company.
Two Alaska state legislators—former House Speaker Pete Kott of Eagle River and Wasilla Representative Vic Kohring—have been convicted on corruption charges involving VECO and two others (Juneau Representative Bruce Weyhrauch and state Senator John Cowdery) have been charged. In fact, Cowdery, the oldest member of the Alaska Legislature and onetime chairman of the state’s powerful Rules Committee, was indicted just a few weeks ago.
Senator Stevens’ bribes evidently came in the form of a costly home renovation which VECO founder Bill Allen personally oversaw. The renovation project more than doubled the size of the senator’s home and the remodeling involved lifting the house on stilts and adding a first floor. Authorities say Stevens also received other gifts, including furniture, tools and a high-priced gas grill. Stevens has represented Alaska in the U.S. Senate since 1968 and is up for reelection this year.
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