September 18, 2007
The longest serving Republican in the U.S. Senate took bribes in the form of a major home remodeling, according to the federal court testimony of an oil company chairman guilty of showering several lawmakers with nearly half a million dollars of “illegal benefits.”
Alaska Senator Ted Stevens has been implicated in the widespread corruption scheme for months but the court testimony--in the corruption trail of state House Speaker Pete Kott--marks the most damaging evidence against the veteran legislator who is also the state’s most powerful political figure.
As chairman of the major oil services company VECO, Bill Allen admitted that he committed extortion, conspiracy and bribery of legislators for giving various politicians and their families more than $400,000 worth of bribes. Among them was doubling the size of the senator’s Alaska home by paying for the labor and materials.
Allen testified that VECO employees performed the work to add a second story to the Stevens residence near Anchorage and the elaborate project took about half a year. A few months ago federal agents raided the Stevens home to gather evidence and take photos and video of the lavish compound.
Although Stevens is the most recognized figure in the statewide corruption scandal, at least six other Alaska lawmakers are under investigation for taking bribes from VECO, which has reaped tens of millions of dollars in federal contracts over the years.
Besides Kott, who is being tried this week, the probe has targeted Stevens’ son, State Senator Ben Stevens, as well as two other state senators (John Cowdery of Anchorage and Donny Olson of Nome) and two state representatives (Vic Kohring of Wasilla and Bruce Weyhrauch of Juneau).The 83-year-old Stevens has represented Alaska in Washington since 1968 and is up for reelection next year. The way things are going, it seems that perhaps a prison sentence may prevent him from campaigning.