Alaska's corruption scandal

Nearly One Year Since The FBI Raided Stevens' Girdwood Home, The Unanswered Questions Keep Building

From a Alaska Democratic Party press release: Alaska is still reeling from the culture of corruption that took over the state and was exposed by the FBI almost two years ago. Just two weeks ago, Former Representative Vic Kohring (R-Wasilla) reported to prison after being convicted of bribery, conspiracy, and attempted extortion. And last week, State Senator John Cowdery (R-Anchorage) was indicted, charged with bribery and conspiracy. Senator Ted Stevens is currently under federal investigation by the FBI and IRS.

Stevens Girdwood Home.

On July 30, 2007, Stevens' home was raided by FBI and IRS agents as part of a court authorized search warrant. It has been 350 days since the raid on Stevens' home and he still refuses to discuss the case or how he is paying his legal fees. Stevens has taken more than $80,000 in political contributions from VECO. Meanwhile, VECO has been awarded more than $30.9 billion in contracts.

Alaska Corruption Scandal Timeline

Currently: Senator Ted Stevens Remains Under Federal Investigation.

June 10, 2008: Cowdery Indicted In VECO Corruption Probe. State Senator John Cowdery (R-Anchorage) indicted on conspiracy and bribery charges related to the VECO scandal. Governor Sarah Palin urged Cowdery to resign from the State Senate. [Demer, Lisa. "Cowdery indicted on corruption charges," Anchorage Daily News, 7/11/08]

May 8, 2008: Kohring Sentenced In Connection To VECO Corruption Probe. Former Representative Vic Kohring (R-Wasilla) sentenced to three and a half years in prison. [Joling, Dan. "Former Alaska lawmaker sentenced in bribery case," Associated Press, 5/8/08.]

March 18, 2008: Post VECO Funded Renovation, Stevens Home Almost Quadrupled In Value, Doubled In Size. According to Stevens' property tax assessment records, his house is worth $460,400. The Girdwood home is now 2.5 stories with four bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and a sauna. The house is 2,759 square feet. The first floor is 1,139 square feet, the second floor is 1,044 square feet, and the attic is 576 square feet. [Property Tax Assessment, Municipality of Anchorage Department of Finance-Appraisal Division, Parcel No. 076-021-21-000-01, Printed March 18, 2008] Stevens' property tax assessment records, prior to the remodel in July 2000 show that the property was assessed at $126,400. Assessment records show that this property had been a 1.5 story, 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath house. The first floor was 864 square feet and the attic was an additional 576 square feet. [Property Tax Assessment, Municipality of Anchorage Building Safety Division, Parcel No. 076-021-21-000-01, Printed July 26, 2000]

March 3, 2008: Clark Pled Guilty To Fraud Involving VECO. Jim Clark, former chief of staff to Governor Frank Murkowski, conspired with the company to hide information from state election regulators regarding $68,000 in campaign expenses VECO had paid for. [Quinn, Steve. "Former Alaska gov's aide pleads guilty to concealing firm's campaign contributions," Associated Press, 3/5/08.]

Late December 2007: Cowdery Asked To Resign From State Senate. State Senate Minority Leader Gene Therriault (R-North Pole) asks John Cowdery, who accepted bribes from VECO according to executives' testimonies but has not yet been convicted, to resign from office because of his implication in the scandal. [Cockerham, Sean. "Letter urges Cowdery to resign," Anchorage Daily News, 12/30/07.]

December 7, 2007: Kott Sentenced In Connection TO VECO Corruption Probe. Former state House Speaker Pete Kott (R-Juneau) sentenced to 6 years in prison, $10,000 in fines and 3 years of probation for pushing VECO-friendly legislation in return for bribes. [Demer, Lisa. "Kott gets 6 years," Anchorage Daily News, 12/8/07.]

November 1, 2007: Kohring Convicted Of Bribery, Conspiracy, And Attempted Extortion. [Carr, Terry. " Alaska corruption timeline," Anchorage Daily News, July 11, 2008.]

October 29, 2007: Allen Testified He Was Blackmailed Over The Renovations Of Senator Stevens' Home. In trials, Former VECO Chief Bill Allen testifies that he was blackmailed by his nephew, VECO employee David Anderson, over complications involving the renovation of Stevens' house by VECO workers. Anderson was a metal worker who worked on the house. [Demer, Lisa, and Kyle Hopkins. "Allen drops blackmail bombshell in Kohring trial testimony," Anchorage Daily News, 10/30/2007.]

October 2007: Stevens Named In A List Of Individuals Said To Be "Owned" By VECO. A lawyer defending Former Representative Vic Kohring named Senator Stevens in a list of prominent Alaskans that he claimed were said to be "owned" by VECO officials. [Anchorage Daily News, "Defense Aims To Discredit Allen; KOHRING: Attorneys Outline Cases As State's Latest Corruption Trial Opens," October 24, 2007]

September 2007: Ben Stevens' Office Was Searched For Second Time By FBI In Connection With His Father. The FBI searched former state senator Ben Stevens' (R-Anchorage) office a second time, taking a sworn statement implicating him in an alleged payment scheme involving fisheries legislation passed by his father. The FBI also seized a document known as the Victor Smith affidavit. Victor Smith, a former salmon fisherman and current barge owner, said that he signed three affidavits related to Ben Stevens. It could not be determined which one was taken. In one, a discussion of for payment for Ben Stevens in exchange for passage of a $50 million congressional plan was detailed. [Anchorage Daily News, "FBI Returns For More Documents From Stevens' Office; Connection: Some Material Relates To Fisheries Legislation His Father Handled In U.S. Senate," September 26, 2006]

September 2007: Governor Palin Called On Stevens To Break Silence After FBI Raid. Governor Sarah Palin said that she and Alaskans are owed a more thorough explanation from Senator Stevens about why he is under federal investigation. [Governor urges Stevens to break his silence, Anchorage Daily News, 9/22/2007]

September 2007: The FBI Recorded Conversations Between Senator Stevens and Bill Allen. It is revealed that Allen cooperated with the FBI in taping phone conversations with Senator Stevens. It was not clear how the information was gathered or what was gleaned from it. [The Washington Post, "Alaska Senator's Calls Were Secretly Taped; Recorded Conversations Between Stevens, Businessman Part of Public Corruption Probe," September 21, 2007]

September 25, 2007: Kott Convicted Of Bribery, Conspiracy, And Extortion. [Carr, Terry. " Alaska corruption timeline," Anchorage Daily News, July 11, 2008.]

September 19, 2007: VECO Paid Workers To Remodel Senator Stevens' Home And Run Fundraisers. Robert Williams, a contractor, testifies that he was paid by VECO to work on Senator Stevens' house as well as to help run fundraisers for the Senator. [Apuzzo, Matt. "Contractor paid workers for Stevens fundraisers, house work," Associated Press, 9/19/07.]

September 14, 2007: VECO Oversaw The Remodeling Of Senator Stevens' Home. Allen testifies that he oversaw work on Ted Stevens' home renovation. [Kane, Paul. "Work on Stevens house detailed; Ex-CEO testifies he oversaw project," The Washington Post, 9/15/07.]

September 7, 2007: VECO Sold To CH2M. Colorado firm CH2M takes over the remains of VECO Corp., purchases for around $460 million. [Cockerham, Sean. "Oil firm VECO is history," Anchorage Daily News, 9/8/07.]

Late August 2007: Ben Stevens Referred To In Indictment Documents. Court documents name Ben Stevens as the fellow corrupt senator alluded to in documents of indicted State Senators Weyhrauch and Kott. ["Federal judge links Ben Stevens to FBI corruption probe," Associated Press, 8/28/07.]

Summer 2007: Senator Stevens' Aides Were Questioned As Part Of VECO Scandal Investigation. Barbara Flanders, a Senate employee on the Commerce Committee, testifies that she worked as Ted Stevens' personal bookkeeper without being paid for that work. [Apuzzo, Matt. "Sen. Stevens aides questioned in probe," Associated Press Online, 7/19/07, Stanton, John. "Stevens used aide for personal work," Roll Call, 8/2/07.]

July 30, 2007: FBI Raided Senator Stevens' Girdwood Home. On July 30, 2007, The FBI raided Stevens' home in connection with a broader investigation into corruption in Alaska politics. The agents studied and took pictures of the house and its fixtures. Federal investigators had been seeking information about the remodeling of Stevens' home by VECO chief Bill Allen. [Anchorage Daily News, "Search Warrant Served; FBI, IRS Examine Residence; Remodeling Job Under Scrutiny," July 31, 2007, The Washington Post, " Alaska Senator's Home Is Raided; Stevens Is Scrutinized In A Wide Inquiry Into Corruption In The State," July 31, 2007]

July 10, 2007: Stevens Admitted The VECO Scandal Could Hurt His Senate Reelection Bid. Senator Stevens admits that VECO scandal "could cause me some trouble" in the 2008 Senate election. ["Stevens admits federal probe could hurt him in '08 bid," National Journal's CongressDaily, 7/10/07.]

June 19, 2007: Vic Kohring Resigned From House Seat. [Halpin, James. " Alaska rep. charged with bribery resigns," Associated Press, 6/20/07.]

May 10, 2007: Bill Allen And Rick Smith Resigned From VECO. ["VECO chairman and chief exec resigns after guilty plea in bribery case," Associated Press, 5/11/07.]

May 7, 2007: VECO CEO Bill Allen And Vice President Rick Smith Pled Guilty To Bribery, Extortion, And Tax Fraud. VECO CEO Bill Allen and Vice President Rick Smith plead guilty to bribery, extortion and tax fraud. As part of a plea deal with the Department of Justice, they pled guilty to giving more than $400,000 in illegal payments to Alaskan public officials. Both had close ties to Stevens and his son. [Anchorage Daily News, Two Close Stevens Associates Cop Plea; Senator's Son Implicated," May 8, 2007] Allen is also charged with issuing bonuses to VECO employees as compensation for their donations to politicians. [D'Oro, Rachel. "Oil service execs plead guilty to bribing Alaska lawmakers," Associated Press, 5/7/07.] In testimony, Allen implicates John Cowdery and Ben Stevens in the bribery scheme, suggesting that Ben Stevens received almost $250k in payments from VECO between 2002 and 2006 in return for legislative support. [Tracy, John. "VECO brass strike plea deal on charges of bribing lawmakers."]

May 4, 2007: Vic Kohring, Pete Kott, And Bruce Weyhrauch Were Indicted In VECO Corruption Scandal. Vic Kohring, Pete Kott, and Bruce Weyhrauch (R-Juneau) are indicted for accepting cash and favors from VECO Corp. in return for their support on legislation that favored VECO. [D'Oro, Rachel. "Oil service execs plead guilty to bribing Alaska lawmakers," Associated Press, 5/7/07.]

October 2006: The FBI Removed Documents Related To Senator Ted Stevens When They Raid Ben Stevens Office. An article in the Anchorage Daily News revealed that the FBI had removed "unknown documents" related to Ted Stevens in a raid of his son, Ben Stevens' state legislative office. The search recovered a June 5 cover page and a Jan. 23 faxed letter sent to "T. Stevens". The article also noted that the search warrants that were used to search state legislative offices had little context and detail, meaning that the probe was wide ranging and not limited to VECO. [ Anchorage Daily News, "FBI Looked At More Than VECO; Inquiry: Officials Show An Interest In A Developer, State Department Of Corrections," October 9, 2006]

September 1, 2006: The FBI Issued A Search Warrant Stating Its Investigation Into Ties Between Public Officials And VECO. An FBI search warrant made public shows the feds are investigating ties between the state legislators and VECO. [Carr, Terry. " Alaska corruption timeline," Anchorage Daily News, July 11, 2008.]

August 31, 2006: The FBI Raided Six Alaska State Legislators Offices - Including Ben Stevens. The FBI raided the legislative offices of six legislators, including Ted Stevens' son Ben Stevens, in connection with the relationship between the lawmakers and the VECO oil company. About 20 warrants were executed throughout the state. [ Anchorage Daily News, "FBI Raids Legislative Offices; Agents Are Quiet On Purpose Of Alaska Investigation; VECO Is Named In The Warrants," Anchorage Daily News, September 1, 2006] The FBI removes 12 boxes labeled "Evidence" from the Juneau office of Ben Stevens. ["Aides say agents looking for gifts, financial information," Associated Press, 8/31/06.]

2001-2006: Ben Stevens Paid As VECO Consultant While Serving In Office. Ben Stevens received $243,250 in consulting fees from VECO during his five years in office. [Anchorage Daily News, "So Far, Just Speculation in Ben Stevens Probe, 12/7/07]

2004: VECO Was Awarded $100 million in National Science Foundation Contracts. VECO won a seven-year follow up contract worth up to $100 million. Senator Stevens would have been in a position to help steer money to VECO through his seat on the Appropriations Committee, and had oversight over the National Science Foundation through his seat on the Commerce Committee. There is no evidence that Stevens directly steered the contract to VECO, but his support for funding of Arctic research increased at the same time that VECO became a large provider of logistics for scientists. [ Anchorage Daily News, "FBI Investigates Science Contracts Awarded VECO," August 16, 2007]

2002: Senator Stevens Pushed For VECO Interests In Senate Energy Bills. Senator Stevens tried to include financial incentives for the companies that would build the pipeline, including Yukon Pacific and VECO, in both the 2002 and 2003 energy bills, but these efforts failed. These incentives included loans, tax credits and guaranteed prices in case the price of natural gas dropped below a certain level. The guaranteed price floors were designed to ensure that transporting and processing the natural gas remained profitable, even if prices or demand declined. [The Washington Post, "Natural Gas Line Proposed in Alaska," March 26, 2003]

2002: Senator Stevens Declared VECO Project A Top Priority. Allen urged legislators to help ease construction of a $20 billion natural gas pipeline in Alaska . "We feel that this opportunity should be a No. 1 priority for all Alaska as a development project, and I am enthused that Sen. Ted Stevens has said in his kick-off campaign for 2002 that he is making it his No. 1 priority for his next six years in the U.S. Senate," Allen said. [ Alaska Journal of Commerce, 7/7/02]

2002: Bill Allen And Senator Stevens Listed As Partners. VECO CEO Bill Allen and Senator Stevens were listed as members of the company Alaska 's Great Eagle, LLC. The partnership, which owns a race horse, was formed in 2002, the same year Allen now admits he began bribing Ben Stevens. [Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development; Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing, accessed 5/8/07]

July 24, 2000: Senator Stevens Filed For Permits To Renovate His Girdwood Home. Senator Stevens files Residential Worksheet Permit with the MOA Building Safety Division outlining a remodeling project to be undertaken on Stevens' Northland Drive property. [Residential Permit Application, Municipality of Anchorage Building Safety Division, Permit No. 00-783, Filed July 24, 2000]

1999: VECO Was Awarded $70 Million in National Science Foundation Contracts. In 1999, VECO was awarded a five-year National Science Foundation contract worth $70 million to provide logistics and support for polar research without having any previous experience in the field.

1999: Senator Stevens Held Up Pakistan Deal On Behalf Of VECO. VECO built a $70 million pipeline for Pakistan , but the government had not paid for it yet. When Pakistan wanted congressional help on a trade issue, Senator Stevens held up legislation to remove trade sanctions from Pakistan until the Pakistani government settled a dispute with VECO. [Los Angeles Times, "The Senators' Sons," June 22, 2003; Alaska Business Monthly, "VECO Alaska Inc." March 1, 2000]

1989: VECO Fined By Alaska For Illegal Campaign Contributions. VECO paid $28,000 in fines to the Alaska Public Offices Commission for funneling campaign contributions through employee payroll. [Tracy, John. "VECO brass strike plea deal on charges of bribing lawmakers,", 5/7/07. Accessed 6/25/08.]

August 29, 1983: Senator Stevens Buys Girdwood House - Sells Condo To Former Owner. Senator Stevens and his wife purchased property located in Girdwood , Alaska from Carolyn Camarot. On this same day, the Stevens sold his condominium unit on West Sixth Avenue in Anchorage to Camarot. [Warranty Deed, State of Alaska Third Judicial District, Doc. No. 1983-066850-0, Filed August 29, 1983]

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