NPR logo Q&A: Inside The Indictment Of Ted Stevens


Q&A: Inside The Indictment Of Ted Stevens

Ted Stevens, 84, has represented Alaska in the U.S. Senate since 1968 — making him the longest-serving Republican in Senate history. On Tuesday he was indicted by the Justice Department. Here's a look at the charges against him:

Why is Stevens in trouble?

Stevens allegedly failed to disclose gifts and services that he received from a private company — VECO Corp., an Alaska oil services company. He and other people in Alaska have been under investigation by the Justice Department since 2004. Stevens was indicted on seven counts of not listing the gifts on financial disclosure forms.

What did Stevens allegedly receive?

Between May 1999 and August 2007, according to the indictment, Stevens received goods and services that vastly improved his vacation home in Girdwood, Alaska, outside Anchorage. The VECO Corp. and its founder, Bill Allen, oversaw the expansion of the home that Stevens calls "the chalet." A whole story was added to the house, along with a garage and wraparound deck. According to the indictment, the company paid for new plumbing, wiring and gutter work. Prosecutors allege that Stevens was also given a Viking gas grill, some tools and furniture and the chance to swap a 1964 Ford Mustang for a brand new 1999 Land Rover Discovery. Stevens has denied any wrongdoing and says he paid every renovation bill he received. Prosecutors allege that he failed to reimburse VECO and others for the gifts.

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So senators can't legally accept gifts?

They can, but only up to a point. If they receive too many gifts from one source in a year, they have to report it on financial disclosure forms. If you add up the allowed amounts for the years 1999-2006, the total is $850. Any aggregate amount over that from a single source of gifts had to be reported. According to the indictment, during those years, Stevens received more than $250,000 worth of undisclosed gifts from VECO and its chief executive, Allen.

What does VECO do exactly?

It's a privately held, Alaska-based company that provides oil pipelines and construction services to petroleum concerns and other firms.

What did VECO allegedly get out of the deal?

Let's quote from the indictment: "It was part of the scheme that Stevens during that same time period ... received and accepted solicitations for multiple official actions from [CEO Bill] Allen and other VECO employees, and knowing that Stevens could and did use his official position and office on behalf of VECO..." A Justice Department spokesman said the indictment does not allege any quid pro quo activities.

What sort of official actions did Stevens allegedly take on VECO's behalf?

The indictment allege that Stevens put in funding requests for certain VECO international projects and partnerships, including ventures in Pakistan and Russia, and that he requested federal grants from the National Science Foundation for a VECO subsidiary.

What will happen next?

At a news conference, a Justice Department spokesman said prosecutors are going to allow Stevens to turn himself in, but there were no details about when or where that would take place.