TED STEVENS, the US Senator who infamously described the Internet as 'tubes', has been indicted by a federal grand jury for not reporting hundreds of thousands of dollars in home renovations, automobiles and other 'gifts' that he received from the oil pipeline contracting company VECO.
Alaska Republican Stevens, 82, is the longest serving member of the US Senate, having been first appointed to fill a vacancy in 1968 and running virtually unopposed ever since. As the chair of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee from 1997 through 2006, he exerted – some would say misused and abused – immense influence over where the US government spent its money for almost a decade.
US Department of Justice prosecutors have alleged that Stevens received more than $250,000 worth of gifts and services from VECO and its executives, including an extensive renovation of his home in Girdwood, Alaska. That work included a new first floor, garage, wraparound deck, and new plumbing and electrical wiring. They also said he was given a new Land Rover in exchange for an old Ford Mustang, as well as a professional gas barbeque grill, assorted furniture and a complete set of mechanics tools.
Stevens' lobbyist son Ben is also undergoing federal investigation, as is his House colleague, Alaska Republican Representative Don Young.
Due to his indictment, Stevens has temporarily stepped down from his ranking positions on Senate committees, as required by party rules.
Stevens has a rather sordid history of favoring his family, cronies and pet projects with US taxpayers' money, but Alaskans seemingly turned a blind eye to it because he directed large infusions of federal pork into the state. An overview of his dodgy dealings is available here. µ
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