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Ted Stevens’ Northern Exposure

by Pamela Leavey

The FBI is investigating Senator Ted Stevens’ remolding job on his legal residence in Girdwood, Alaska. Apparently, the remolding job is causing Stevens a little heat as it “involved the top executive of Veco Corp. in the hiring of at least one of the key contractors.”

Three contractors who worked on the project said in recent interviews with the Daily News that the FBI asked them to turn over their records from the job. One said he was called to testify about the project before a federal grand jury in Anchorage in December.

The remodeling work, which more than doubled the size of the house, occurred in the summer and fall of 2000. The four-bedroom home, about two blocks from the day lodge parking lot at the Alyeska ski resort, is Stevens’ official residence in Alaska.

An old friend of Stevens in Girdwood, longtime Double Musky restaurant owner Bob Persons, has been questioned by the FBI about the project. He monitored the remodeling for Stevens and his wife while they were in Washington, D.C.

“I will be testifying. That’s all I can tell you,” Persons said in a brief interview last week. “It is an ongoing investigation that I’m not supposed to talk to or see anybody about it.”

The investigation, a “wide-ranging federal inquiry surfaced in August when agents raided six legislative offices, including those of then-Senate President Ben Stevens, one of Ted Stevens’ sons.”

The FBI said at the time that it also had executed a search warrant in Girdwood, among other places, although the location of that search has never been officially disclosed.

Veco, an oil-field service company that has long been a strong lobbying presence in Juneau, was one of the early targets of the agents, according to some of the search warrants that became public. On May 7, the company’s longtime chief executive, Bill Allen, and a vice president, Rick Smith, pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy, bribery and tax charges. They are now cooperating with authorities.

The investigation spread to the commercial fishing industry, including Ben Stevens’ consulting clients and associates. Federal subpoenas served on fishing companies in Seattle last year sought records concerning both Ben and Ted Stevens.

Four current or former Alaska state lawmakers have been indicted and are awaiting trial on corruption charges, and an Anchorage lobbyist has pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges.

Ben Stevens has not been charged. But the charges pleaded to by Allen and Smith alleged Ben Stevens improperly accepted $242,000 from Veco for “giving advice, lobbying colleagues, and taking official acts in matters before the legislature.”

How the Girdwood home fits in with the broader investigation, or what possible crimes are being investigated, is not clear.

Maybe the investigation into Veco isn’t related to Stevens, maybe it is. Time will tell… stay tuned for more episodes of Ted Stevens’ Northern Exposure or as TPMMuckracker called it — Extreme Makeover: Veco Edition.

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