Witness Says He Didn't Bill Stevens
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) never paid for extensive renovations and repair work on his house performed by employees of a once-powerful oil services company, the firm's former chief executive testified yesterday.
The executive, Bill Allen, is the prosecution's star witness in Stevens's trial on charges of lying on financial disclosure forms to hide more than $250,000 in gifts and renovations to his house in Girdwood, Alaska. Stevens, 84, is running for reelection to a seventh full term.
Allen, a longtime fishing and drinking buddy of Stevens's, testified that his employees renovated Stevens's house and oversaw the work of other laborers. Over the years, Stevens's house grew from a one-story cabin into a two-story house that Stevens called a "chalet," with two wraparound decks, modern electrical systems and a new garage.
In later years, employees at Allen's now-defunct company, Veco, also did repair work, Allen testified.
Allen said he never sent Stevens a bill for the work, which Veco documents valued at tens of thousands of dollars in labor and material. In 2002, Stevens sent Allen a handwritten letter asking for a bill for a new first-floor deck installed by Veco employees.
"You owe me a bill. Remember Torricelli, my friend," Stevens wrote, referring to a campaign finance scandal involving Robert Torricelli, the former senator from New Jersey. "Friendship is one thing. Compliance with the ethics rules, entirely different."
Stevens added that Allen needed to contact their mutual friend Bob Persons, who was monitoring the renovations because the senator spent so much time in Washington.
When he met with Persons, however, Persons told him to ignore Stevens's request for an invoice, Allen testified. "Bill, don't worry about getting a bill" for Stevens, Allen said Persons told him. "Ted is just covering his [expletive]."
A month later, Stevens again requested a bill. But Allen ignored that, too. He said he didn't want to charge Stevens a dime for the work. "I wanted to help Ted," Allen testified.
"Why?" asked prosecutor Joseph Bottini.
"Because I liked him," Allen replied.
Prosecutors introduced the notes to show that the senator was aware of how much work Allen and Veco put into the house.