Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The conviction of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens yesterday on corruption charges leads me to wonder about his son. Ben Stevens, the former president of the Alaska Senate, has looked like a probable indictment target for more than a year, and yet no charges have been brought.
Judge Emmet Sullivan refused to allow Bill Allen, the former head of Veco who is at the center of Alaska's bribery scandal, to refer to Ben Stevens as anything more specific than "State Senator B." Where did that name come from, and why did the senior Stevens' attorneys worry that reference to another "Sen. Stevens" would hurt their client's case?
"State Senator B" appeared in Allen's own bribery indictment and was immediately identified as Ben Stevens. This is from an AP story last September:
Stevens, 48, was among several lawmakers whose Anchorage legislative offices were searched by FBI agents a year ago. Federal prosecutors have made reference to a "State Senator B" who took $243,250 in bogus "consulting" fees from VECO.
In a court filing last month, U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick linked the two, saying the identification of Stevens had "already been reported in the press," based on comparing the money paid by Allen and Stevens' financial disclosure reports.
In July, federal prosecutors indicted state Sen. John Cowdery. TPM reported at that time:
The indictment of Alaska State Sen. John Cowdery (R) last Thursday, means all of the state legislators whose offices were raided in August of 2006 (except Stevens) -- Cowdery, Vic Kohring (R), Bruce Weyhrauch (R), Pete Kott (R) and Don Olson (D) -- are now either cooperating with federal investigations, convicted or indicted.
Allen and Rick Smith, a former Veco vice president, have both testified that they had bribed Ben Stevens to advance their agenda. Veco documents emerged as court filings in the Ted Stevens case that suggested the company was unhappy that it was getting nothing from Ben Stevens in exchange for large monthly payments to him, to the point that company executives were worried about potential liability for the company.
"Pete Leathard and Roger Chan do not like Ben Stevens," the documents say. "There was concern in Veco that Ben Stevens was not doing any work and he was billing Veco monthly for work. Both Roger Chan and Jack Miller have stated the Veco is going to get in trouble if they do not have Ben Stevens doing something."
Ben Stevens certainly hasn't been found guilty of any crime. He hasn't even had his day in court. But that is what's surprising, at this point. The prosecutors in the Veco bribery cases have been pretty aggressive, but they have left the younger Stevens more or less alone, at least publicly.
I can't imagine that will remain true for too long, but on the other hand, people have been predicting his indictment for more than a year. Is is possible that there's no case against him?
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