We've been following the many shady-sounding escapades of Alaska's long-serving Senator Ted Stevens (R) for some time now, right up to yesterday's 7-count indictment against Stevens for failing to properly disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts from oil services company Veco, the central corporation in the wide-ranging Alaska bribery investigation that has landed several state legislators in jail.
Veco is alleged to have poured upwards of $250,000 into an extensive home remodel for Stevens -- far more than Stevens reported having received from the company. The FBI raided that home last year. The Veco scandal has seen state legislators from Alaska indicted for accepting bribes in exchange for doing official favors for the company. Alaska's Rep. Don Young (R) has also been mentioned in connection with the investigation, and Sen. Stevens' son, former state Senate President Ben Stevens landed it hot water as well when it was revealed he has been a handsomely paid private consultant for Veco while serving as a legislator.
From the Washington Post story on the indictment:
Former Veco chief executive Bill J. Allen, who pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy and bribing public officials, figured prominently in yesterday's indictment. In one instance, court papers said, he agreed to exchange a new 1999 Land Rover for a much less valuable 1964 Ford Mustang owned by the lawmaker after Stevens expressed interest in finding a new vehicle for his daughter.
In return, Allen and other unnamed Veco officials for years sought Stevens's help with partnerships in Pakistan and Russia, with grants from the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies, and with a variety of other issues, prosecutors said. The assistance was sometimes provided by Stevens or staff members, they said, but at times no help was offered.
The ethics law requires elected officials to disclose gifts that exceed a few hundred dollars and debts that exceed $10,000 during any point in the year. Stevens flouted the requirements from 1999 to 2006, according to the indictment.
Stevens is the longest serving Republican in the Senate, but questions about the Veco probe drew him stiff Democratic opposition in this year's Senate race, where he will face Democrat Mark Begich, mayor of Anchorage.
Stevens has already resigned his committee assignments in response to the indictments but Public Campaign Action Fund's Campaign Money Watch project doesn't feel that's quite enough. From Campaign Money Watch Director David Donnelly:
"With seven felony indictments stemming from his failure to disclose $250,000 in gifts from campaign donors, Campaign Money Watch believes that Sen. Ted Stevens ought to resign his office immediately. While every American should be afforded due process that presumes innocence, a central feature of our political system is the trust that citizens place in their elected officials. Sen. Stevens' actions have severed the bond of trust between him and the people of Alaska. He ought to recognize that his time to leave is now."
Incidentally -- wonder who else has been taking money from Veco? Paul Blumenthal at the Sunlight Foundation put together a handy little chart.