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FBI Probing Republican Senator Ted Stevens

Looks like the FBI is investigating another little piggie, this time it's Republican Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska.

Sen. Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, disclosed in an interview that the FBI asked him to preserve records as part of a widening investigation into Alaskan political corruption that has touched his son and ensnared one of his closest political confidants and financial backers.

Stevens, who is famous for bringing home federal earmarks for Alaska when he was Appropriations Committee chairman, was not previously known to be linked to the Justice Department's probe, which has uncovered evidence that more than $400,000 worth of bribes were given to state lawmakers in exchange for favorable energy legislation.

Investigators have used secret recording equipment, seized documents and cooperating witnesses to secure the indictments of four current and former state lawmakers, including the former state House speaker, shaking the core of Alaska's Republican Party.

Two executives of a prominent energy company have pleaded guilty to bribery and extortion charges and are cooperating with the inquiry, which is being run by the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section and includes two federal prosecutors and FBI agents based in Anchorage.

"They put me on notice to preserve some records," Stevens said in a brief interview about his legal team's discussions with the FBI. He declined to say what kinds of records were involved but confirmed that he had hired lawyers and that his son, former state Senate president Ben Stevens, "is also under investigation."[...]

Stevens has long been close to Allen, who formerly directed Veco Corp., the energy company at the heart of the corruption probe. Since 2000, Allen has contributed more than $50,000 to political and campaign committees controlled by Stevens. In 2005 and 2006 alone, Allen and other Veco executives gave Stevens-affiliated election committees $37,000, Federal Election Commission records show. A Stevens aide said the senator recently decided to donate contributions from Allen and another Veco executive from 2004 to 2006 to charity.

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Several years ago, Allen joined with Stevens and a handful of other corporate executives to purchase thoroughbred horses, according to Stevens's financial disclosures to the Senate.

In early May, Allen and another Veco executive pleaded guilty to bribing state legislators primarily to secure the passage of tax legislation creating a natural gas pipeline that could have yielded Veco billions of dollars in revenue, court records show.

As part of the plea, Allen admitted that his bribes included $243,250 in no-show consulting work from 2002 to 2006 to "state senator B" to win the lawmaker's support for the pipeline project and other legislative matters. State financial reports filed by Ben Stevens list the same dollar amount in receipts from Veco; for several of those years, his father was Appropriations Committee chairman.[...]

A string of subpoenas issued by a federal grand jury last year indicate that the FBI is seeking information on the financing of the renovation of Ted Stevens's Anchorage home at a cost exceeding $100,000, according to several of those who received the subpoenas. In the renovation, the contractors lifted the home -- located next to an exclusive ski resort -- on stilts and built a new floor beneath the existing one.[...]

Allen and Veco executives have also been backers of Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), a past chairman of the Resources Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. In the 2006 election cycle, Young took in more than $30,000 from Veco executives, and his chief of staff is a former lobbyist whose clients included Veco.

According to his plea agreement, Allen first "corruptly authorized" the hiring of "state senator B" in 1995 to perform consulting work six years before his election.

Investigators recorded meetings between Allen and Veco executives and lawmakers inside a Juneau hotel room a block from the state capitol, where they regularly met the bribed lawmakers, often handing them wads of hundreds of dollars.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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