Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Groups Call for Alaska Senator to Leave Committees over Corruption

NPR News - All Things Considered - Aug. 31, 2007
Two Congressional watchdog groups Tuesday called on Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) to step down from his seats on the Senate's Commerce and Appropriations committees.

On Monday, agents from the FBI and IRS raided Stevens' home in a resort community near Anchorage, Alaska. He's being investigated as part of a political corruption inquiry that includes his son and the state's only member of the House.

Richard Mauer, staff writer for the Anchorage Daily News talks with Melissa Block about reactions there.

FBI Searches Home of Alaska's Sen. Stevens

Federal agents photographed the home of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens during a search related to a public corruption probe, law enforcement officials said.

Stevens, 83, an Alaska Republican, is under a federal investigation for his relationship with Bill Allen, an oil field services contractor who was convicted this year of bribing state lawmakers.

A renovation project in 2000 that more than doubled the size of Stevens' home in the ski resort community of Girdwood was overseen by Allen, who is founder of VECO Corp. The Alaska-based oil field services and engineering company has reaped tens of millions of dollars in federal contracts.

Agents from the FBI and Internal Revenue Service started their search of the senator's home Monday afternoon, Dave Heller, FBI assistant special agent, told The Associated Press. He said he could not comment on the nature of the investigation.

About 15 agents took photos and video of various angles of the structure, climbing onto the roof at one point, and eventually entered. They later carried out a garbage bag full of unidentifiable materials and loaded it into an unmarked white van.

The curtains were drawn during most of the search.

A law enforcement official familiar with the case confirmed that the raid on Stevens' home was focused on records related to the ongoing VECO investigation. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

An e-mail statement issued by Stevens through his Washington, D.C., spokesman said federal agents had alerted his attorneys that they wanted to search his home.
FBI Searches Home of Alaska's Sen. Stevens
Stevens, who has been in office since 1968 and is among the longest-serving senators in history, said the interests of justice would be best served if he commented after the investigation.

"I continue to believe this investigation should proceed to its conclusion without any appearance that I have attempted to influence its outcome," Stevens said. "The legal process should be allowed to proceed so that all the facts can be established and the truth determined."

Located 40 miles south of Anchorage, Girdwood is nestled in a valley next to Mount Alyeska and has evolved from a gold mining town into Alaska's only year-round resort community.

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From NPR reports and The Associated Press

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