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July 31, 2007
Defender of Pork in Trouble with the FBI
Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), the longest serving Republican Senator in history, had his Girdwood home searched yesterday by the IRS and the FBI.
Stevens is in hot water over his dealings with Bill Allen, former CEO of Veco Corporation, an energy services company. Allen pled guilty in May to charges of bribing state legislators. The Senator's son is a target in that probe:
The Alaska investigation has centered on Allen's efforts to bribe lawmakers by handing out wads of hundred-dollar bills in an effort to win favorable tax legislation in Alaska for a natural gas pipeline long sought by the energy industry and leaders of both political parties there. The feds are also looking into a massive home remodeling project that contractors say was overseen by Allen and other Veco officials:
In early June, Ted Stevens told The Washington Post that federal investigators had given him a document preservation request as part of the Veco probe, a request that he expected would lead to him turning over those documents to the FBI. He added that "my son is also under investigation." Stevens said then he had not been interviewed by federal investigators.
In addition, the Anchorage Daily News reported last month that a second grand jury was hearing testimony in Washington involving the Girdwood home project. The remodeling, which took place in 2000, involved putting the senator's one-story house on stilts and building a new ground floor, making it two stories. Stevens has expressed annoyance with efforts of bloggers and others to rein in pork barrel spending by Congress. He once threatened to resign if funding for a "Bridge to Nowhere" - connecting a tiny island with a small town - was taken out of the pork-laden Highway Bill last year.
Veco has received more than $30 million in federal contracts since 2000, according to a database search of FedSpending.org, which tracks contracts given to private companies. The largest contracts were for logistical services provided to the National Science Foundation.
Something happens to these folks the longer they're in Washington. The sense of entitlement is absolutely astonishing. If Stevens did indeed help his friend Bill Allen out by steering federal contracts his way in exchange for campaign contributions as well as receiving personal gifts like remodeling his home, it will be a sad end to a long career combining exemplary service to his home state with an arrogance toward the law and the taxpayer's money that seems to infect too many of our public servants.