Last Friday, PBS' NOW with David Brancaccio covered the VECO Alaska oil corruption scandal. If you're new to the scandal that has enveloped these non-continental politicians and is creeping up on Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young this video is the place to start. Below is a 6 minute clip from the full video. Watch the full video here.Continue reading
Former VECO CEO Bill Allen was on the stand today in the trial of Alaska state Rep. Vic Kohring and testified that his own cousin attempted to blackmail him over VECO's work on Sen. Ted Stevens' Girdwood, Alaska home. The Alaska Daily News is covering the trial:
Kohring Lawyer John Henry Browne asked Veco founder Bill Allen about something that came up at the corruption trial last month of former state Rep. Pete Kott. It was regarding Allen’s nephew, Dave Anderson.
Anderson was blackmailing you and you threatened to kill him? Browne asked.
“I was not going to kill him, no,” Allen responded
But that’s the information the government had, wasn’t it? Browne asked.
Allen went back to a point he made a number of times during cross examination.
That’s just part of the story, Allen said. “You have to do the whole thing.”
Anyway, what was Anderson blackmailing him about? Browne asked.
“Ted Stevens’ house,” Allen anwered.Continue reading
This morning a friend of mine, who is an Alaska resident, called me to ask if I could use the power of the Internet to find out if the state had released the total amount of money that he gets from the state oil dividend program, i.e.: free money for residents from oil revenues. This led me to the Anchorage Daily News Web site where the main story was, of course, the on-going investigation and court trials of Alaska politicians and oil company executives. If you're looking for coverage of this massive statewide scandal, the ADN is the place to go. I was really impressed by the amount of multimedia they have on their site. From ADN, I've embedded below the testimony of VECO executive Bill Allen where he admits to using personal funds and VECO employees to work on Sen. Ted Stevens home remodeling project, a center piece to the investigation of the senior Senator from Alaska. Allen does not sound comfortable here.Continue reading
By now, you've probably heard that agents from the FBI and the IRS raided the home of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, who has been under investigation for his links to Veco Corp., whose executives have been among his top contributors over the years (and top contributors to quite a few others as well. A pair of them have also pled guilty to bribing some state lawmakers. One of the issues federal agents are investigating is the role Bill Allen, the company's CEO, played in arranging renovations to Stevens' home, which doubled its size. Stevens says he paid for the renovations out of his own pocket. This raises a question I've thought of before but have never seen satisfactorily answered -- how many kinds of favors are there that someone can do for a lawmaker that don't necessarily leave a paper trail? If someone uses his time, connections, expertise and so on to help a senator hire the right contractor, it doesn't necessarily leave any kind of record. The senator gets a thing of value--perhaps the best price or the finest quality or the fastest service--thanks the efforts of this benefactor. Perhaps it's not the name of the company to hire, but a whispered stock tip that pays off handsomely or an invitation to be in on the ground floor of a can't-miss real estate development. In any case, our friends at Taxpayers for Common Sense are asking Sen. Mitch McConnell to ask Stevens to recuse himself from his committee work. Don Surber notes that Alaska has a dubious trio of lawmakers. It's pretty indicative of the state of affairs of the North to the Future state that the Anchorage Daily News has a tab on this page that says, "More Alaska Political Corruption Stories," which takes the reader to this catalog.Continue reading
Laura McGann of TPM Muckraker writes about an odd wrinkle in the personal financial disclosure rules that's being advanced by an aide to Sen. Lisa Murkowski to explain her failure to dislcose some property she bought. To briefly recap McGann's story, Murkowski bought some undeveloped land from Bob Penney, a politically connected Alaskan real estate developer (he's quite close to Sen. Ted Stevens). Local realtors consulted by McGann suggest the property might sell on the open market for as much as $300,000. How much Murkowski actually paid is unknown--the transaction price in Alaskan real estate deals are not public, Penney isn't talking and Murkowski didn't list the purchase on her personal financial disclosure form because, her office says, the land is for personal use:
Murkowki's office called the purchase exempt from Senate financial disclosure, citing a clause in the ethics manual which says "property which is held or maintained solely for recreational or personal purposes does not have to be reported." (ethics manual) The committee declined to comment for this story. "She bought this for personal use just like millions of other people," Danielle Holland said. "My response to your question, times six, is it's for personal use."Continue reading