giantacceleratingcorruptionsnowballhitsjuneaupoliticians . 1735
Here there is a private company, which is probably not too worried about sox complaince. I bet we’ll find out.
VECO would pass up hiring anyone with pipeline pigging experience for sexual favor applicants just like the state does. Hence sludge, corrosions and BP’s latest hook- Broken Pipeline.
I dropped the VECO name and associations in the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court as part of an ‘ethics crisis’ in the state administration and politico.
Maybe they did take the stuff to the grand jury. 8O
My experience is that there aren’t any big fans of complying with anything in Alaska.
A question for the soxers here is there Sarbanes-Oxley violations available in anything like this or just racketeering, or both? Maybe I know more about this than the DOJ gives out. Maybe it’s a wait and see…
From the Anchorage Daily news
Federal agents raid legislative offices
Federal agents swarmed legislative offices around the state Thursday, executing search warrants in a coordinated series of raids that appeared to target the longstanding relationship between the oil-field service company Veco and leading lawmakers. An FBI spokesman said federal agents executed about 20 search warrants statewide.
From channel13 Anch
FBI Raids State Lawmaker’s Files for Evidence of Bribery
There are allegations of bribery involving several Alaska lawmakers and VECO.
Thursday, federal agents stormed into offices in Anchorage, Wasilla, Girdwood and Eagle River, collecting evidence but saying very little.
Everyone at the Anchorage Legislative Office is being very tight-lipped about the FBI raid that’s ongoing Thursday afternoon. At this point, the FBI has confirmed that agents are executing search warrants in Anchorage, Juneau, Wasilla, Girdwood and Eagle River.
Anonymous sources say the investigation stems from the controversial oil tax, or PPT, legislation that was just passed earlier this month. The belief right now is that specific lawmakers are under investigation for accepting bribes on that legislation.
Tam Cook is the Legislature’s top attorney. Cook says the company named in the search warrant was VECO Corporation, an Anchorage-based oil field services and construction company whose executives are major contributors to political campaigns.
Also in a statement faxed to news organizations Thursday afternoon, Wasilla Rep. Vic Kohring says he was interviewed by the FBI in his office regarding an investigation of VECO. Kohring said he cooperated and was told he was not a target of the investigation.
Two legislative aides spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal from federal agents who told them not to talk to reporters. They tell the Associated Press that FBI agents were looking for any ties, including financial information and gifts. One aide said the warrant allowed for the search of computer files, personal diaries and other documentation.
The other aide said he demanded to read the warrant before allowing the search and that VECO officials Bill Allen, Rick Smith and Pete Leathard were named in the warrant. A message left Thursday with VECO was not immediately returned.
It has been confirmed that the offices of these six lawmakers were searched Thursday afternoon:
- Sen. Ben Stevens
- Sen. John Cowdery
- Sen. Don Olson, the only Democrat in the group
- Rep. Pete Kott
- Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch
- Rep. Vic Kohring
More offices may be on the way.
Former U.S. Attorney Wev Shea says he wouldn’t be surprised if the case is being prosecuted outside the state of Alaska. Jackie Lesch, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., says the agency can’t comment at this time, because it’s an ongoing investigation.
It’s a sad day for Alaska,’ Shea said, ‘But it’s been a long time coming. It needed to be addressed, and I personally am glad it is. You know how outspoken I’ve been about political corruption in this state.’
From KTUU Channel 2 Anch.
FBI agents search offices of state legislators
Thursday, August 31, 2006 - by Steve Mac Donald ’ Watch the video…
Anchorage, Alaska - FBI agents fanned out across Alaska today, questioning at least a half dozen state lawmakers who are the targets of a federal investigation. News of the investigation surfaced this afternoon when agents descended on the Legislative Information Office in downtown Anchorage.
At list six lawmakers were questioned by FBI agents today and it appears that at least five of them are targets of the federal probe. Late this afternoon, several sources released word that oil field contractor Veco Corp. is also at the center of attention for investigators.
FBI and several other federal agencies descended on at least five different locations, including the Legislative Information Office in Anchorage. Inside, they searched the offices of Sens. Ben Stevens and John Cowdery Anchorage and Sen. Donny Olson of Nome. In all three offices, the shades were drawn and the doors were shut. Every once in awhile an agent would emerge and head to another office.
Requests from reporters for information were normally answered with the door closing.
It appeared Cowdery was the only lawmaker under investigation in the building. At one point he was questioned by several agents in a conference room down the hall from his office.
Later, when he returned to his office, he had little to say.
Are you under criminal investigation?
I don’t think so, Cowdery said.
In Stevens’ office, agents wearing latex gloves could be seen through gaps in the blinds rifling through files and examining a laptop computer. The same thing was happening in Cowdery’s office, as well as Olson’s.
But it appears they are not the only lawmakers under investigation. According to sources, Eagle River Rep. Pete Kott and Wasilla Rep. Vic Kohring are also targets of the criminal probe.
At LIO, it was just after 3 p.m. when a shaken Cowdery finally was able to leave his office. He was escorted to a nearby elevator by FBI agents and staff members. Downstairs, he got into his personal car. For Cowdery, it was the end of a day’s ordeal, but it appears the federal investigation is far from finished.
Late this afternoon Kohring sent out a news release saying he was questioned by federal agents but was told he’s not a suspect. Also, Kohring said that he was told Veco is under investigation.
The Associated Press is reporting that Tam Cook, the state Legislature’s top attorney, was named in the federal warrant.
Attempts were made to contact VECO officials today, but so far calls have not been returned.
The search warrants were served in at least five locations: Anchorage, Eagle River, Girdwood, Juneau and Wasilla. There’s also a report that one may have also been served in Nome, which is the hometown of Donny Olson.
From KTVA Channel 11 Anch
Article Last Updated: 08/31/2006 09:40:23 PM AKDT
Several powerful Alaska lawmakers’ offices raided
By Matthew Simon, CBS 11 News Reporter
On Thursday, several powerful lawmakers’ offices–both here in Anchorage and at the capitol in Juneau–were swarming with federal agents. Those offices included Senate President Ben Stevens, Senator Donald Olson, Representatives Vic Kohring, Bruce Weyhrauch, and Pete Kott. All FBI officials will say right now is that they and IRS officials were there to execute search
CBS 11 News has confirmed these lawmakers are being investigated because of their relationship with Veco. That is the big oil company that provides services to the energy, resource and processing industries throughout the world.
All FBI officials will say is that they served warrants in Anchorage, Juneau, Eagle River, Girdwood and Wasilla. While FBI officials are not saying who those warrants have to do with, CBS 11 News has confirmed Anchorage Senators Ben Stevens, and John Cowdery, as well as Juneau Representative Bruce Weyhrauch, Eagle River Representative Pete Kott, Wasilla Representative Vic Kohring and Nome Democratic
Senator Donny Olson are all subjects of the FBI and IRS investigation.
Representative Olson’s office was the one to confirm for CBS 11 News that all of this has to do with Veco–although we have no information on the specifics.
We are continuing to gather information and will update you as soon as we learn it.
To contact Matthew, call 907-273-3186.
FBI looks for hats in probe
By MATT VOLZ
The Associated Press
Published: September 1, 2006
Last Modified: September 1, 2006 at 12:46 PM
JUNEAU - Among the items federal agents were searching for in Alaska legislative offices this week are hats or garments labeled Corrupt Bastards Club or Corrupt Bastards Caucus, according to the search warrant.
FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents raided a half-dozen state lawmakers’ offices across Alaska Thursday and continuing Friday, looking for ties between them and oil field services giant VECO Corp.
A copy of one of the search warrants, obtained by The Associated Press, links the investigation to the new production tax law signed last month by Gov. Frank Murkowski and the natural gas pipeline draft contract Murkowski and the state’s three largest oil companies negotiated.
Among the items to be seized, according to the warrant, from the period of October 2005 to the present, any and all documents concerning, reflecting or relating to proposed legislation in the state of Alaska involving either the creation of a natural gas pipeline or the petroleum production tax.
VECO and its chairman, Bill Allen, were staunch supporters of the governor’s production tax plan, a version of which the Legislature passed in August after twice rejecting it earlier this year. Lawmakers have also twice failed to pass legislation related to the governor’s pipeline fiscal contract with BP PLC, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil Corp.
VECO’s executives are top contributors to Alaska politicians, mostly Republican. Allen flew to Juneau at the end of the regular session to lobby lawmakers and watch the vote on the new production tax.
The warrant calls for seizure of documents concerning, reflecting or relating to any payment to lawmakers by VECO executives Allen and Richard Smith. Agents also looked for documents about contracts, agreements or employment of legislators provided by VECO, Allen, Smith and company president Peter Leathard.
In the warrant served on state Sen. Donald Olson, D-Nome, agents were also authorized to seize any documents related to fuel payments, landing strip fees, storage fees and similar aircraft costs. Olson owns a flying service.
Olson was in Nome Friday. His office released a brief statement in which Olson pledged to cooperate with authorities.
I am certain that I will not be a target of this investigation and that I have broken no laws, the senator said in the prepared release.
A specific item named in the search for seizure: Any physical garments (including hats) bearing any of the following logos or phrases: ËœCBC,’ ËœCorrupt Bastards Club,’ ËœCorrupt Bastards Caucus,’ ËœVECO.’
Besides VECO and its executives, agents were authorized to seize any documents related to The Petroleum Club, Republican pollster David Dittman or his company, Dittman Research and Communication Corp., pollster Marc Hellenthal or his company, Hellenthal and Associates, Roger Chan, VECO’s chief financial officer, and Olson Air Service, according to the warrant.
VECO officials and Dittman, who was duck hunting, did not immediately return calls Friday.
We have a history of contract work with VECO, Hellenthal said Friday. There’s a ton of businesses that have a political interest that want to know how the people they are backing are doing.
Hellenthal said once or twice a year, his firm conducts polls for VECO and other businesses on governors’ and legislative races. The exception was this year, when he was polling for Republican candidate John Binkley. Binkley came in second to Sarah Palin for the GOP nomination on Aug. 22. Hellenthal said he has not been contacted by federal agents.
A receipt of items seized from Olson’s office by the FBI and obtained by The Associated Press lists five things: Olson’s 2006 year planner, Murkowski’s gas pipeline proposal released in May, a manila folder labeled APOC, the Alaska Public Offices Commission, Olson’s interim travel file and a binder related to the Alaska Stranded Gas Fiscal contract.
Department of Justice spokeswoman Jaclyn Lesch said Friday the searches began Thursday and are continuing Friday. FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez said a total of about 20 search warrants were being executed across Alaska, but would not say where.
Those actions took place yesterday in cities in Alaska as part of an ongoing law enforcement matter. The (Justice Department) and FBI won’t be able to comment any further, Lesch said.
No further comment is likely to come from the Justice Department unless charges are filed, she said.
Among the offices searched was that of Republican Senate President Ben Stevens, the son of the senior senator from Alaska. Ted Stevens’ spokesman Aaron Saunders on Friday said they had no comment on the search.
Ben Stevens could not be reached at his Anchorage home on Friday.
Also searched were offices in both Juneau and Anchorage belonging to state Sen. John Cowdery, the Senate Rules chairman; Republican state Rep. Vic Kohring; Republican state Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch; and Republican state Rep. Pete Kott.
Olson is the only Democrat of the six; the rest are Republicans.
Calls to Weyhrauch and Kott were not immediately returned Friday.
Kohring said he cooperated and was told he was not a target of the investigation.
Cowdery, a Republican from Anchorage, said Friday he didn’t know why he was included in the raid or why agents seized items unrelated to anything, including the stubs of his legislative salary checks. Cowdery said he has not retained an attorney to deal with the matter, but probably will.
It’s pretty bizarre, he said. That’s all I know, it’s pretty bizarre. I certainly haven’t done anything wrong.
Daily News reporter Lisa Demer contributed to this story. E-mail her at ldemer_at_adn.com
FBI doing their Job.
FBI investigation of lawmakers and Veco widens
By LISA DEMER and DON HUNTER
Published: September 1, 2006
Last Modified: September 2, 2006 at 02:18 AM
Federal agents searched homes and businesses and interviewed CIRI executives and a political pollster Friday as they broadened their investigation into possible corruption involving Alaska lawmakers and the oil field services contractor Veco.
The FBI executed three more search warrants in Anchorage and one in Willow, bringing the total count to about two dozen searches in two days, said FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez.
While the FBI won’t say what the investigation is about, one of the search warrants in the case makes it clear that agents are looking into financial ties between Veco and legislators, and that they are seeking evidence of all kinds, even hats or other garments mockingly labeled Corrupt Bastards Club, Corrupt Bastards Caucus, or just CBC.
Agents are looking at whether Veco’s top executives, including CEO Bill J. Allen and vice president Richard Smith, have given any thing of value to any public official, according to the search warrant. They also want documents related to the proposed natural gas pipeline and the petroleum production tax signed into law last month.
They are after people paying for votes during the recent oil and gas special sessions. I think that was fairly transparent, said political pollster Marc Hellenthal, who said he was interviewed Friday afternoon by two FBI agents from Sacremento. Agents also told him what they are looking for goes back longer than that.
The FBI has brought in agents from around the country for the investigation. The Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies also are involved, Gonzalez said.
Veco has denied any wrongdoing and says it will cooperate with authorities. No one has been charged or arrested.
The investigation has stretched to past legislators, including former Sen. Robin Taylor. R-Wrangell, who was interviewed Thursday by FBI agents. Taylor is now a deputy commissioner in the state Department of Transportation.They interviewed him about his past as a lawmaker and his dealings with Veco, said Will Vandergriff, deputy press security for Gov. Frank Murkowski. He said they are just expanding their net.
Taylor, a lawyer, reported receiving USD16,800 from Veco in 2002 and another USD19,300 in 2001 for legal work done while he was a state senator. Taylor maintains all arrangements were proper and disclosed, Vandergriff said.
The governor had nothing to say about the investigation Friday.
What statement could he have? We don’t know anything, said Jim Clark, Murkowski’s chief of staff.
Federal agents also want to know about any political polling contracted for by Veco, Hellenthal said.
Hellenthal said the FBI agents did not have a search warrant for his business but that he willingly talked to them and told them he hadn’t done much Veco polling lately because he worked for John Binkley during the Republican primary contest for governor and Veco supported Murkowski.
Agents also executed a search warrant and spent about three hours Friday afternoon copying computer hard drives at the office of Dittman Research and Communications Corp., said Terry Dittman, the firm’s research director and wife of Dave Dittman, who was duck hunting with his sons and didn’t know about all the commotion.
Both Hellenthal and Terry Dittman said they were told their firms aren’t under investigation.
Agents with the FBI and IRS also met with the president and two other executives of Cook Inlet Region Inc. Friday afternoon. Barbara Donatelli, CIRI’s senior vice president for administration and government relations, said the interview was related to some of the investigation that is currently underway, but that the agents told CIRI president Margie Brown that the regional Native corporation is not a target of the probe.
They were trying to collect information, Donatelli said. We are going to cooperate with them and any information we can supply, we will.
Donatelli said the agents did not bring search warrants or subpoenas. She would not discuss what the agents wanted to know.
As to the Corrupt Bastards Club, the reference first sprouted in a barroom joke, according to state Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski. It happened earlier this year, after a opinion column highlighting Veco contributions to 11 lawmakers and Gov. Murkowski appeared in the Daily News and other newspapers.
I can’t remember (who), somebody came up and said, Ëœwell, you corrupt bastards,’ more as a joke. That’s where that came from. There is no group, he said. Somebody thought it humorous enough to have CBC put on some hats.
Chenault, who was one of the 11, said he was questioned by federal agents Friday, but that they didn’t serve him with a search warrant. They had a myriad of questions to ask, some I don’t want to go into, he said. Basically, they were asking if I’d heard things or seen things that may not be ethical or legal. I explained I wasn’t aware of any.
The federal investigation is stressful, he said. Your mind raises 50 different things about what they might be looking for. ’ You think you’ve done everything right, but then (you think), ËœGod, did I smart off sometime and say something that someone insinuates I’m on the take?’
Attorney Amy Menard, who represents Veco Corp. and a subsidiary, Veco Alaska, said Friday that company officials had received a copy of a search warrant the day before, but that it was not immediately executed.
It is several pages long and extremely broad in nature and we are still trying to get a broader understanding of what the authorities are after, she said, adding that she expected to meet with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Veco wants to assist federal investigators, she said.
Obviously, we’re in a fact-gathering stage and Veco Corp. and Veco Alaska is here to assist the government to the extent we can, Menard said. If we’re in a position to provide information they’re looking for, we intend to do that.
For well over a decade, Veco has produced a steady and strong river of campaign contributions to candidates and political committees both in Alaska and nationally. In 2004, the company’s executives, employees and family members donated more than USD217,000 to 26 federal candidates or groups, ranging from USD47,250 for U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski to USD400 to the Republican National Committee. In state elections that year, Veco’s top three contributors alone gave more than USD122,000 to the Alaska Republican Party and state House and Senate candidates.
Veco executives also are known for prowling the Capitol halls and even passing notes to lawmakers on the floor to influence votes.
Offices of six lawmakers were searched Thursday, when FBI agents conducted raids in Anchorage, Juneau, Wasilla, Eagle River and Girdwood.
According to the search warrant released by Sen. Donny Olson, D-Nome and one of those whose office was searched, the FBI is looking for:
’ Any and all documents concerning, reflecting, or relating to any payment by Bill J. Allen, Richard Smith, and/or Veco to, or for the benefit of, any political candidate, political campaign, or political action committee.
’ Any documents concerning any contracts, agreements, or employment that involves Allen, Smith, or Veco president Peter Leathard.
’ Any documents relating to ethics standards and regulations for legislators including any materials relating to limits on outside employment, limits on acceptance of things of value, and reporting requirements.
In addition to information about Allen, Smith and Leathard, the warrant served on Sen. Olson seeks documents concerning Veco chief financial officer Roger Chan, Olson’s Nome-based air taxi company, and the Petroleum Club, an Anchorage private club.
The warrant allows agents to search computers and seize all kinds of documents,including bank records, credit card receipts, loan documents, telephone records, travel records, expense reports, meeting notes, letters, and calendars.
In Olson’s office, the FBI seized his 2006 year planner, Murkowski’s natural gas pipeline proposal released in May, a manila folder with financial reports to the Alaska Public Offices Commission, Olson’s interim travel file and a binder related to the Alaska Stranded Gas Fiscal contract, a legislative aide said.
Olson issued a statement saying he’s not a target of the investigation and that he’s cooperating. I have broken no laws, he said.
The FBI also searched the offices of two powerful leaders from Anchorage: Senate President Ben Stevens and Senate Rules Committee Chairman John Cowdery, who told reporters he didn’t think he was under investigation.
And agents searched offices of Rep. Pete Kott, a former House Speaker from Eagle River who chairs the Legislative Council; Rep. Vic Kohring of Wasilla, who chairs the House Committee on Oil and Gas, and Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch of Juneau, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee. All of the six legislators are Republicans except for Olson.
Kohring issued a statement saying he is cooperating and not a target. Terry Harvey, a Weyhrauch legislative aide, said My own take is that he’s as puzzled as everyone. Harvey said agents took his own Rolodex but he declined to say what else was seized from Weyhrauch’s office.
Numerous attempts to reach Kott and Stevens were unsuccessful.
Stevens, the son of Alaska’s powerful U.S. senator, Ted Stevens, has said in required disclosure forms that he was paid USD243,000 over the last five years as a consultant to Veco. Neither he nor the company has explained what he did for the money.
House Speaker John Harris, R-Valdez, said the investigation is frustrating because it has burst into a public firestorm and agents aren’t disclosing much about what evidence they may have or be looking for.
If the feds have some kind of evidence they should come forward with it, he said. What happens is, the media grabs it and you’re guilty unless proven innocent.
If somebody did something that’s illegal, that’s one thing, he said. But all of a sudden it’s on the front page ’ and for what?
Democrats say the investigation points to what’s wrong with the Legislature and the powerful influence of special interests.
What I’ve seen is just a culture of corruption, said Eric Croft, D-Anchorage. Lobbyists writing bills. Special interests, not only funding campaigns, which unfortunately I’ve gotten kind of used to, but hiring legislators as consultants. A line between a consultant who does not do any work and a bribe is hard to define.
Republicans have been disturbed, too. During the second special session, Rep. Jay Ramras, R-Fairbanks, got up on the floor to condemn the kind of coziness with lobbyists he’d just seen in the hallway on a bathroom break. He called it putrid.
In an interview Friday, he said the incident involved an oil industry lobbyist - not from Veco - and a member of the Murkowski administration. He said a group of industry lobbyists and administration officials had been sitting in the Republican majority’s private caucus room watching the House floor proceedings on a big screen tv. There was something in the way the unnamed officials interacted that set Ramras off, he said - a gleefulness, a coziness.
It was just too much familiarity, he said.
Daily News reporters Richard Richtmyer and Tom Kizzia contributed to this story.
Corruption questions tar upcoming general election
Wednesday, September 6, 2006 - by Bill McAllister
Anchorage, Alaska - The state Legislature is hanging in two kinds of limbo – legal and political – and now some lawmakers are saying it’s time for some clarity. While lawmakers wonder about the FBI’s intentions, they’re also awaiting word from Gov. Frank Murkowski. Members of the House of Representatives say they have not heard whether the governor will heed their plea not to call another special session on his gas line deal.
In the meantime, the FBI still is not explaining the execution of two dozen search warrants last week, which included the offices of at least six lawmakers, in a raid seeking information on oil and gas issues. Some of those legislators, whose offices have not been searched, say the FBI needs to level with Alaskans about what’s happening.
Legislators who are seeking re-election are doing so in an unprecedented climate following last week’s search warrants executed by the bureau in an influence-peddling probe involving oil field services company VECO Corp.
If it’s a fishing expedition, it’s a pretty public one right before an election. So now we all get painted with the same brush, said Rep. Ralph Samuels, R-Anchorage (right).
Agents, many of them reportedly not from Alaska, searched the offices of Senate President Ben Stevens, Senate Rules Committee chairman John Cowdery, former House Speaker Pete Kott, House Oil and Gas Committee chairman Vic Kohring, House Ways and Means chairman Bruce Weyhrauch and Senate Finance Committee member Donny Olson. A few other lawmakers and at least one aide say they have been interviewed by the FBI as well.
But with the bureau saying nothing about who might be targeted for what, House Speaker John Harris is calling for some disclosure by the agency.
I’d like the FBI to come forward with some information. You know, clear as many people as you can, narrow it down, say, ‘All right, this one, this one and this one are the ones we’re really looking at,’ or whatever, rather than say everyone’s painted with them, said Harris, R-Valdez.
Let us know what’s happening. Are the elected people involved? Are they not involved? Is this simply evidence gathering? Is it going to be a year? Is it going to be two years? Samuels said.
But Rep. Harry Crawford, right, says that while there might be an anti-incumbent backlash in the election that undermines innocent legislators, he’s glad there’s an investigation.
I’d love to hear what all is going on. And what, if any, charges are going to be filed, and just the rest of the story, said Crawford, D-Anchorage.
But with that story unfolding just two months before the election, some legislators wish they could skip to the end.
VECO Corp. also is concerned about the public relations toll. Although company officers have declined to return numerous phone calls from KTUU-TV, a news release from VECO says it’s not surprised by negative media coverage, but is disappointed by any suggestion that the company or its executives have done anything improper or illegal.
Former governor Tony Knowles plans to say something in the morning about how Alaska’s next governor will negotiate a gas line deal now that Murkowski’s deal is dead. Independent gubernatorial candidate Andrew Halcro has called for relatively minor modifications to Murkowski’s proposed deal. So far, Knowles, the Democratic nominee, and Republican nominee Sarah Palin have both talked about bargaining from a position of strength and inviting multiple proposals.
Significantly, Murkowski’s failure to win legislative ratification of his gas line contract will result in a ballot initiative vote for a USD1 billion tax on gas reserves. The governor had proposed to nullify that tax in the contract.
FBI agents search offices of state legislators
(Thursday, August 31, 2006)
At least seven Alaska lawmakers are being questioned by federal investigators, and one of them says the investigation is centered on the oil field services contractor VECO. News of the probe surfaced Thursday afternoon when FBI agents served search warrants at legislative offices around the state.
FBI continues investigation of state lawmakers
(Friday, September 1, 2006)
Four more search warrants were executed by the FBI Friday in its investigation of the relationship between state lawmakers and the oil field services company VECO. The investigation concerns a couple of the biggest oil and gas issues since statehood.
Gubernatorial candidates campaign ethics after FBI raids
(Tuesday, September 5, 2006)
Alaska’s three major candidates for governor publicly prioritized ethical government after the FBI raided legislative offices around the state last week. Knowles proposed new ethics legislation, while all three defended their public service records.
Hey they even mention ENRON here. I think I am the reason for this as I have alleged a the existance of an ethics crisis in the State Government. Ben Stevens and VECO were both mentioned in the pleadings.
I was able to get it outside of the State with the suspension of an international treaty obligation. Perhaps justice will be served but the four year wait is exhaustive.
Maybe I should try to take it up a level. Let’s get a crooked Union into the middle of it ya think?
FBI case managed from D.C.
EXCLUDED: Investigations of officials often recuse a local area’s U.S. attorney’s office.
By RICHARD MAUER
Anchorage Daily News
Published: September 12, 2006
Last Modified: September 12, 2006 at 04:17 AM
WASHINGTON – The federal investigation that erupted with fury 10 days ago with searches of a half-dozen Alaska legislative offices is being managed independent of the Alaska U.S. Attorney’s office, a U.S. Justice Department official said Monday.
‘The whole office is recused,’ Justice Department spokesman Bryan Sierra said.
Instead, the wide-ranging investigation is being overseen by attorneys from the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section in Washington, D.C., Sierra said.
The Public Integrity Section has about 25 attorneys, a team that often lives out of suitcases in pursuit of corruption cases as far away as Guam. They’ve prosecuted petty thefts by sheriff’s deputies, the massive frauds of Enron and the high-profile corruption case of Jack Abramoff.
Sierra wouldn’t say why the Alaska office wasn’t allowed to participate in the case or how many lawyers from Washington were assigned to it. But the case is even off-limits to Nelson Cohen, the new U.S. Attorney for Alaska who just arrived last month from Pittsburgh, he said.
Sierra said it’s not unusual that the local U.S. Attorney’s office will recuse itself from a sensitive corruption case and wall off its legal, public relations and even clerical staffs from the investigation and prosecutions. Sometimes one or two assistant U.S. attorneys might still be assigned to work with the Public Integrity attorneys, but Sierra said he didn’t know if that was the case in Alaska.
FBI agents from Alaska are lead investigators, working the case alongside the prosecutors from the Public Integrity Section, said Eric Gonzalez, spokesman for the FBI in Alaska.
The investigation is being run out of the FBI building on East Sixth Avenue in downtown Anchorage.
If it’s anything like the Enron case, Sierra said, the investigation has taken over a sizeable chunk of the FBI building.
Dozens of extra FBI agents were brought in from Outside to execute about two dozen search warrants when the first raids started at legislative offices and elsewhere Aug. 31. After the initial round of searches and interviews, the Outside agents were sent home, Gonzalez said.
Authorities won’t release any particulars, including how many FBI agents remain on the case, Gonzalez said. Other agencies also are involved, including the IRS.
While officials say little, the warrants target the relationships between legislators and the oil field service and construction company, Veco. The company, which has long been generous with campaign donations at the state and federal levels and lobbying in Juneau, has gone so far as to hire sitting legislators, including Senate President Ben Stevens, R-Anchorage, the son of Alaska’s powerful U.S. senator, Ted Stevens.
In disclosures he was required to file as a legislator, Ben Stevens has reported that Veco paid him USD252,000 over the last five years to serve as a consultant, including USD57,000 in 2005. Neither Stevens nor Veco has described what he did for the money. Stevens is one of six lawmakers whose offices were searched Aug. 31.
Perhaps a year ago, the FBI began collecting campaign and other publicly available financial disclosure records on selected legislators, said Brooke Miles, executive director of the Alaska Public Offices Commission. As she remembers it, agents then came back at the beginning of this year for campaign reports and financial disclosure records on all legislators.
Created in 1976, the Public Integrity Section has a number of jurisdictions. It investigates election fraud, misconduct by federal judges and corruption of elected officials.
U.S. Attorney offices prosecute corruption cases, too. The Alaska office prosecuted a dozen officials, lobbyists and businessmen in a massive kickback scandal in the North Slope Borough in the 1980s.
But the position of U.S. attorney is a political appointment headquartered in a local jurisdiction, so the Justice Department will sometimes assume control over cases involving powerful local figures.
‘Public corruption cases tend to raise unique problems of public perception that are generally absent in more routine criminal cases,’ the Public Integrity Section wrote in its 2004 report to Congress, explaining why U.S. Attorney’s offices are sometimes recused.
‘An investigation of alleged corruption by a government official, whether at the federal, state or local level, or someone associated with such officials, always has the potential to be high-profile, simply because its focus is on the conduct of a public official. In addition, these cases are often politically sensitive, because their ultimate targets tend to be politicians or government officials appointed by politicians. A successful public corruption prosecution requires both the appearance and the reality of fairness and impartiality.’
Daily News reporter Richard Mauer can be reached at rmauer_at_adn.com or 1-202-383-0007. Daily News reporter Lisa Demer contributed to this story.
FBI triples its Capitol Hill corruption squads
September 19, 2006
By James Gordon Meek New York Daily News
WASHINGTON There is so much political corruption on Capitol Hill that the FBI has had to triple the number of squads investigating lobbyists, lawmakers and influence peddlers, the New York Daily News has learned.
For decades, only one squad in Washington handled corruption cases because the crimes were seen as local offenses handled by FBI field offices in lawmakers’ home districts.
But in recent years, the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal and other abuses of power and privilege have prompted the FBI to assign 37 agents full-time to three new squads in an office near Capitol Hill.
FBI Assistant Director Chip Burrus told The News Monday that he wants to detail even more agents to the Washington field office for a fourth corruption squad because so much wrongdoing is being uncovered.
‘Traditionally, a congressional bribery case might be conducted on Main Street U.S.A., but a lot of the stuff we’re finding these days is here in Washington,’ said Burrus, who heads the FBI’s criminal division.
He said typical crimes involve lawmakers’ illegal interactions with lobbyists and ‘people who have a lot of savvy about how the congressional process works and appropriations.’
Plus, the electronic and legislative paper trail that winds up as evidence is in Washington, as Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, and ex-Rep. Randy (Duke) Cunningham, R-Calif., can attest.
Ney has agreed to plead guilty to corruption charges. Cunningham was sentenced to eight years in prison for taking bribes.
Two years ago, only 400 agents worked on public corruption cases. Now, 615 agents nationwide including 30 in New York are trying to nail public servants for betraying the public trust in 2,200 ongoing cases.
A recent FBI search of the Alaska Statehouse was a first of its kind.
In Washington, agents conducted unprecedented searches of the offices of the CIA’s third-ranking executive and the House office of Rep. William Jefferson, D-La.
Both stemmed from bribery allegations.
Burrus wouldn’t speculate about why there is so much graft, but said, ‘We have to pull the whole weed up or it’s just going to grow back again.’
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