Wednesday, July 30, 2008
A review of major developments in the investigation of links between Alaskan lawmakers and the oil-field services company Veco (which was acquired by CH2M Hill in September 2007) :
March 2006: An opinion article printed in Alaska's largest newspapers highlights 12 current and former lawmakers who collectively received more than $150,000 in political contributions from Veco's top seven officials. Lawmakers named in the article reportedly mock it by calling themselves the "Corrupt Bastards Club."
August to September 2006: FBI agents raid the Juneau offices of six state legislators, part of 20 search warrants executed statewide in a 48-hour period. Agents were searching for possible connections between the lawmakers and Veco, and items named in the warrants included hats or other garments that said "CBC," "Corrupt Bastards Club" or "Corrupt Bastards Caucus." Three of the legislators named in the March article have their offices searched: Senate Rules Committee Chairman John Cowdery (R), House Oil and Gas Committee Chairman Vic Kohring (R), and former House speaker Pete Kott (R). Also searched is the office of Sen. Ben Stevens (R), the son of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).
May 2007: Veco chief executive Bill J. Allen and Rick Smith, a vice president of the company, plead guilty to bribery and conspiracy charges, admitting that they provided more than $400,000 in illegal payments to five members of the state House and state Senate, as well as "other public officials." They agree to work with the government on cases against the lawmakers who allegedly took the money. One was an unidentified former state senator whose consulting payments cited in the plea agreement matched payments reported by Ben Stevens.
July 2007: FBI and IRS agents raid Ted Stevens's house in Alaska. Contractors have told a federal grand jury that Veco executives oversaw a lavish remodeling of Stevens's house in Girdwood. Stevens says that he and his wife, Catherine, paid more than $130,000 of their own money for the work.
September 2007: Kott is convicted of bribery, conspiracy and extortion. He was accused of taking nearly $9,000 in payments and of accepting a promised job from Veco in exchange for pushing through the legislature a new production tax that the company favored. Allen testifies at the trial that he oversaw the rebuilding of Ted Stevens's house, visiting the home about once a month, and that he gave the senator furniture.
November 2007: Kohring is convicted of bribery, conspiracy and attempted extortion. He was accused of accepting more than $2,000 in cash from Allen, as well as trying to get an additional $17,000 from company officials to pay off a credit card bill, in exchange for taking Veco's position on the production-tax law.
July 2008: Cowdery is indicted on conspiracy and bribery charges, accused of working with Veco executives to buy the vote of another senator on the production-tax law. His indictment means that, of the legislators targeted in the 2006 FBI raids, only Ben Stevens is not either indicted, convicted or cooperating with investigators.
SOURCES: Staff reports, Anchorage Daily News, Seattle Times