From The New York Times:
WASHINGTON, July 30 — The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service raided the Alaska home of Senator Ted Stevens on Monday in search of evidence about his relationship to a businessman who oversaw a remodeling project that almost doubled the size of the senator’s house, federal law enforcement officials said.
The decision to raid the home suggests that the corruption investigation focused on Mr. Stevens, a long-serving Republican and former chairman, has taken on new urgency.
The businessman, Bill J. Allen, the founder of an oil fields service company that has won tens of millions of dollars in federal contracts with the senator’s help, has pleaded guilty to bribing state legislators.
Original movie poster.
But it’s not like all of Alaska’s politicians are crooked, right? More from the NYT article:
Mr. Stevens has been caught up in a larger corruption investigation in Alaska that resulted in raids last year on the homes of six state lawmakers, including the senator’s son, Ben, who was then president of State Senate. All of the state lawmakers are under scrutiny over their relationships with Mr. Allen and his company, VECO, and other large Alaska companies.
Senator Stevens’s home in Girdwood was renovated in 2000 with the help of Mr. Allen, a longtime friend, and contractors have said that bills for their work went to VECO before they were passed on to Mr. Stevens.
The remodeled home has 2,471 square feet of living area, about double its original size, with a taxable value of about $420,000, tax records show. The carpentry work alone for the renovation is known to have exceeded $100,000.
Thank goodness Alaska has another senator who is honest!
Mr. Stevens is also a business partner of Mr. Allen. The two men, along with several others, purchased a racehorse, named So Long Birdie, and were occasionally seen dining together at a Girdwood restaurant owned by another of the horse owners, Bob Penney. Mr. Penney testified last month before a federal grand jury in Anchorage that has gathered information in the corruption cases.
Last week, the state’s other senator, Lisa Murkowski, a fellow Republican, announced that she and her husband would sell a large plot of land back to Mr. Penney after a complaint was made to the Senate Ethics Committee about the circumstances of the purchase.
Ms. Murkowski paid about $180,000 for the undeveloped land, which local real estate agents described as about half its true value.
Oops!! Well, maybe the Senate might not be the place to look. I am sure that in the House of Representatives, it’s a completely different story!
From the Arizona Republic:
Alaska’s only U.S. representative, Don Young, also is under federal investigation as part of an on-going corruption probe, a federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press last week, commenting only on condition of anonymity. Part of the Young investigation involves his campaign finance practices, the law enforcement official said.
The investigation was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. Former VECO Corp. CEO Allen held fundraisers called “the Pig Roast” for Young every August for 10 years. Public records show Young received $157,000 from VECO’s employees and its political action committee between 1996 and 2006, the Journal reported.
Pig roast, huh? Looks like someone else is getting roasted now!
I’ll keep looking for an honest Alaskan politician. Don’t hold your breath.
UPDATE: It has been pointed out that the NYT article contains and error, and Bob Penney does not own the Girdwood restaurant. This is from the Anchorage Daily News, June 17, 2007:
As the far-reaching federal investigation into corruption in Alaska politics spreads to Washington, Stevens family friend and neighbor Bob Persons was ordered to appear before a grand jury in Washington on May 25. The government directed him to produce documents related to the work on Stevens’ Girdwood house, especially to work that might have been performed by Veco and contractors who were hired or supervised by Veco.
The house expansion project, first reported in the Daily News on May 29, more than doubled the size of the home. The Stevenses had asked Persons, who lives above the Double Musky restaurant he owns in Girdwood, to help them oversee the addition while they were in Washington.