Saturday, September 15, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Oil exec attests to work on Stevens' home

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — A former energy-company executive testified Friday that his employees worked on an expansive reconstruction of the home of Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, who is under investigation in a federal probe of corruption among Alaskan lawmakers.

Bill Allen, the former chief executive of VECO, said he personally oversaw the rebuilding of Stevens' house near Anchorage, visiting the home about once a month, and gave the senator furniture. "I gave Ted some old furniture," Allen testified. "I don't think there was a lot of material. There was some labor."

Contractors had told a federal grand jury that VECO executives supervised renovations at Stevens' home and that bills for their work went to VECO for Allen's approval. But Friday was the first time that Allen, who has pleaded guilty to bribing state lawmakers in Anchorage, named Stevens publicly.

Allen testified in federal court in Alaska in the trial of a former state legislator whose case is part of a larger corruption investigation that has ensnared Stevens' son, Ben Stevens, who is a former state senator. Allen said Friday that Ben Stevens accepted $4,000 a month in bribes, disguised as consulting fees, while he was in the state legislature.

Ted Stevens has told Alaska reporters that he paid every bill he received for the home renovation. In a letter to a friend, Stevens said he had paid more than $130,000 for the renovations.

Friday, Stevens said in a statement he did not want to make any comment that might influence the investigation.

Federal investigators have been examining federal contracts awarded to VECO, particularly those from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1999 and 2004. The 1999 contract was worth $45.4 million; the second is worth as much as $93 million through 2011, NSF officials said. They said VECO won the contracts after competitive bids to help the agency with research operations in the Arctic Circle.

Stevens, 83, is the longest serving Republican senator. He joined the Senate in 1968 and has become one of the most powerful members of Congress. He has said he plans to run for re-election next year. Democrats, who plan to make the corruption investigation a major issue in the campaign, regard Stevens as vulnerable.

Allen pleaded guilty in May to paying more than $400,000 in bribes to five members of the state House and state Senate in Alaska, as well as "other public officials."

His testimony Friday about Stevens came during the trial of former state House Speaker Pete Kott, who is accused of supporting favorable tax legislation sought by Allen in exchange for cash and the promise of a future job.

In court, Allen acknowledged for the first time that in 2000 he oversaw the rebuilding of Stevens' home, which involved lifting the existing A-frame structure up on stilts and building a new floor underneath, more than doubling the size and value of the house.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company


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