TOPICS > Politics

Alaska Sen. Stevens Indicted in Corruption Probe

BY Admin  July 29, 2008 at 4:45 PM EST

Sen. Ted Stevens, R.-Alaska; AP file photo

A figure in Alaska politics since before it became a state,
Stevens, 84, has also been dogged by a federal investigation into whether he
pushed for fishing legislation that also benefited his son, an Alaska lobbyist.

From May 1999 to August 2007, prosecutors said Stevens
concealed “his continuing receipt of hundreds of thousands of dollars
worth of things of value from a private corporation.” The indictment
released Tuesday said the items included: home improvements to his vacation home
in Alaska, including a new first floor, garage, wraparound deck, plumbing,
electrical wiring; as well as car exchanges, a Viking gas grill, furniture and
tools.

Prosecutors said Stevens “took multiple steps to
continue” receiving things from oil services company VECO Corp., and its
founder, Bill Allen. At the time, the indictment says, Allen and other VECO
employees were soliciting Stevens for “multiple official actions … knowing
that Stevens could and did use his official position and his office on behalf
of VECO during that same time period.”

VECO’s requests included funding and other aid for the oil
services company’s projects and partnerships in Pakistan and Russia. It also
included federal grants from several agencies — as well as help in building a
national gas pipeline in Alaska’s North Slope Region, according to the
indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Washington.

In a news conference at the Justice Department, Acting
Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich said that VECO, its employees and
contractors provided architectural design help for renovations to Stevens’
home, including helping to lift it off its foundation to install a new first
floor.

The 7-count indictment — returned by a federal grand jury
in Washington, D.C. — comes nearly one year to the day after federal agents
raided Stevens’ home in Girdwood, a resort town about 40 miles south of
Anchorage.

Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, a Democrat, is challenging
Stevens for his seat this fall.

“In my personal finances, in good times and bad, I’ve
been an open book,” Begich says to the camera in his first TV ad,
according to Politico. “It’s time to end the secret deals for special
interests and the special favors for elected officials.”

Stevens’ Washington office was closed and not answering
phone calls, and a spokesman in Alaska declined to answer questions, Politico
reported.

Stevens is undoubtedly the most powerful politician in
Alaska’s 50 year history of statehood, but his relationships with contractors
and lobbyists have come under intense scrutiny over the past year, according to
Politico. His son Ben has also been swept up in a corruption scandal.

Stevens, the first sitting U.S. senator to face federal
indictment since 1993, is expected to be allowed to turn himself in once a summons
has been issued. His attorney learned of the indictments through a phone call
earlier Tuesday, Friedrich said.

Friedrich said an investigation into public corruption in
Alaska that began in 2004 has resulted in seven convictions including that of Allen,
a former VECO vice president, a lobbyist and several politicians.