Extreme Home Makeover Means Extreme Legal Trouble for Ted Stevens


One thing that the lobbying and ethics reform bill didn’t have to clarify was bribery; that one is already written pretty clearly into the law. Sen. Ted Stevens looks to be in serious trouble for accepting bribes in the form of an extreme home makeover. The Associated Press broke the story earlier today that VECO executive Bill Allen has testified to federal investigators, with whom he is cooperating, that he paid between one and four VECO employees to work on Stevens’ home for six months. This is in direct contradiction to Stevens’ earlier assertions that Allen did not pay for the remodeling. From the AP:

Ex-Veco Corp. CEO Bill Allen admitted in court Friday that he had company employees work several months on a remodeling project at the Girdwood home of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens.

Under cross-examination by defense attorney James Wendt, representing former state Rep. Pete Kott, Allen acknowledged that the more than $400,000 he admitted spending in the bribery charge was for other legislators – and including for work done at the Girdwood home of Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in the U.S. Senate.

"I gave Ted some old furniture," Allen said. "I don’t think there was a lot of material. There was some labor.

The workers were Veco employees, probably one to four at a time, Allen said. He said the work on the home lasted for "probably a couple of months." Later, he said it might have been as much as six months.

The remodeling work in summer and fall 2000 more than doubled the size of the house, a four-bedroom structure that is Stevens’ official residence in Alaska.

Stevens has said while the contracting bills were first sent to Veco for accuracy checks, he paid for the work.

This follows right on the heels of another AP report on a video showing Allen and VECO executive Rick Smith discussing their powerful ally, Ted Stevens:

In the grainy video, VECO Corp. executives Bill Allen and Rick Smith can be heard talking about how to ensure passage of an oil tax bill. If approved, the bill would increase chances that a natural gas pipeline would be built, a deal that could mean huge profits for VECO.

Allen and Smith said they wanted to ensure Stevens was asked "good questions" that would steer him toward discussing the bill and the pipeline. The senator, Allen said, would make clear that "we need oil."

At this point things look really bad for Stevens. Allen is in an agreement with federal investigators to flip on political figures involved in this corruption case so that Allen’s adult children do not get charged. Too bad for Stevens there is no one in Alaska for him to flip on; he’s the big fish.

Meanwhile in Washington, the Senate Ethics Committee wastes its time investigating Larry Craig for allegedly being gay. I could wait until they start investigating real abuses of power but by then Stevens might not be sitting in the Senate anymore.