Thursday, August 2, 2007

US: FBI searches senator's house

Ted Stevens: Longest-serving Republican senator in history

FBI searches US senator's house

Federal agents in the United States have searched the Alaska home of veteran Republican Senator Ted Stevens as part of an inquiry into corruption.
FBI and Internal revenue Service agents entered the house to investigate Sen Stevens's ties to the jailed head of an oil service company, Bill Allen.
Mr Allen was sentenced this year after admitting to bribing state legislators.
Sen Stevens, 83, who is up for re-election next year, has not been charged with any wrongdoing.
He is being investigated for his links to Mr Allen, who was the chief executive of Veco, the biggest oil service company in Alaska.
In May, Mr Allen and another Veco executive Rick Smith pleaded guilty to several corruption charges, including paying more than $400,000 to bribe Alaskan legislators.
Contractors have told a federal grand jury that Mr Allen oversaw a project that doubled the size of Sen Stevens's home in the Alaskan ski resort of Girdwood.
Sen Stevens has said that money for the remodelling of his house came out of his own pocket.
Sen Stevens, who has been in office since 1968 and an influential member of Congress for many years, said he would not comment on the search.
"I continue to believe this investigation should proceed to its conclusion without any appearance that I have attempted to influence its outcome," he said in a statement.
He is among more than a dozen current and former members of Congress who have come under federal scrutiny over allegations regarding their links to lobbyists, defence contractors and other business interests.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/07/31 10:52:54 GMT

Investigators searched inside and outside the house

Senator Stevens's Igloo

New York Sun Editorial
August 2, 2007

Senator Stevens is finding himself in hot water. The FBI raided the Republican's residence in Girdwood, Alaska, looking for evidence on his relationship with an oil-field-service contractor by the name of Bill Allen. Allen, who was been convicted this year of bribing state legislators, oversaw a 2000 renovation project that more than doubled the size of Mr. Stevens's house; Allen's company, VECO Corp., has reaped millions of dollars in federal contracts over the years.
Though the matter must await the outcome of the law-enforcement process, a note of caution is in order. It has been corruption more than any other issue that has dragged the Republican Party down in recent years. Having been given a majority in 1994 to root out the corruption of the Democratic Congress, all too many Republicans who came to Washington to do good stayed to do well. Despite the war, "corruption/ethics" ranked highest in voters minds, according to exit polls, when voters threw the GOP out of power.
Mr. Stevens has become a symbol of Republican susceptibility to pork, particularly the idea that taxpayers should be forced to disgorge a half a billion dollars so that a "Bridge to Nowhere" could be constructed connecting two chunks of ice in Alaska, one uninhabited. He even threatened to resign should his favored earmark be removed from the budget. The FBI investigation could yet force his resignation for different reasons. But we're not so focused on who paid for the ice in the Stevens igloo. The real scandal is not what's illegal but what's legal Â-- namely the earmarks that grew a mind-boggling tenfold on the Republican watch.

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