Contractor Says He Aided Senator With Fundraisers
Thursday, September 20, 2007
A construction worker who oversaw renovation of Sen. Ted Stevens's home said his company also paid him to help run fundraisers for the Alaska Republican, a practice that appears to violate federal campaign finance laws.
Contractor Robert Williams is a key witness in a bribery investigation that stretches from Alaska to Capitol Hill and threatens legal and political headaches for the Senate's longest-serving Republican. The FBI is investigating whether Stevens received illegal gifts from Veco Corp., a once-powerful Alaska oil contractor.
Williams said he was in charge of "special projects" for Veco founder Bill Allen, and the renovation of Stevens's home was one such project. Others included working three or four fundraisers for Stevens while on the clock with Veco. Federal election laws prohibit candidates from accepting donations or free services from corporations.
Unlike other Veco employees, Williams did not itemize his time sheets with job codes so customers could be billed. When working on one of Allen's pet projects, Williams just logged his hours and Veco made sure he was paid.
"I never had any doubts about it until the FBI came down and served me with subpoenas," Williams said in a telephone interview.
At fundraisers, including at least one at the home of Stevens's brother-in-law, Williams said he was assigned odd jobs. He delivered ice, arranged for table rental, or oversaw the four or five Veco employees parking cars.
"If I didn't have parking patrol, I basically just had to be there to make sure nothing got messed up," Williams said.
Williams said he also helped run annual fundraising pig roasts for Rep. Don Young, another Alaska Republican who has come under scrutiny in the Veco investigation. The fundraisers were among many Williams said he worked on during his more than 13 years at Veco.
Stevens spokesman Aaron Saunders had no comment yesterday. The senator has said he wants to avoid any suggestion he was trying to influence the investigation by discussing it publicly.
A spokesman for Young's office referred questions to his campaign spokesman, who did not immediately return a call.