Yesterday, Sen. Ted Stevens (R) went home to Alaska for the first time since FBI officials raided his home on July 30.
The investigation centers around a remodeling of Stevens’s home in 2000, “thanks to the help of a top executive at local oil company Veco Corp.” Two former Veco Corp. executives recently pleaded guilty to federal bribery and conspiracy charges, which includes paying $242,000 in illegitimate consulting fees to Stevens’s son, Ben, formerly president of Alaska’s state senate.
Yet yesterday in a speech to the Anchorage Rotary Club, Stevens refused to address the ongoing federal investigations:
I know you’re interested in the items that have been in the media recently. I wish I could discuss those in detail. But to avoid any suggestion that I as a senator am attempting to influence an investigation by the Department of Justice, I simply cannot talk about it.
Stevens also defended his extensive earmarking for Alaska, stating, “I believe I was sent there [to Congress] to do the best I can to get the money to meet the needs of this state.”
But much of Stevens’s earmarking hasn’t benefited the state, as much as it has his personal cronies. Federal authorities are also investigating “a series of earmarks pushed through Congress over the past several years by Stevens for an Alaska nonprofit tied to Trevor McCabe, a former Stevens aide and a business partner of his son.”
Stevens’s popularity is now near its all-time low. Fewer than 45 percent of Anchorage voters have a “positive view” of Stevens, down from a “positive rating between September 2005 and April 2007″ of “between 58 percent and 63 percent.”
The Anchorage Daily News reports just “a few dozen” supporters showed up before Stevens’s speech yesterday to show support. The standing ovation for Stevens’s speech “went on for half a minute.”