A federal agent takes photos at the Alaska home of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens during a search. CLICK FOR LARGE
Convicted Stevens donors fed Inouye's campaign, too
The Hawaii senator shares donors with an embattled Alaska lawmaker
STORY SUMMARY »
Hawaii Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye and Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens share some of the same Alaska political contributors, including top executives who have pleaded guilty in a widening federal investigation of political corruption in Alaska.
Inouye got $11,000 from VECO-linked donors in 2003, included Bill Allen and Richard Smith, who pleaded guilty to spending $400,000 to bribe members of the Alaska Legislature.
Now Stevens is under investigation; Inouye is defending him.
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Hawaii's senior Sen. Daniel Inouye has received $11,000 in contributions from officers and employees of VECO Corp., the Alaska oil utility firm involved in the federal investigation of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.
Inouye and Stevens are close friends who call each other "brothers." They travel together and share responsibilities in Senate committees, although Inouye is a Democrat and Stevens is the Senate's longest-serving Republican.
DONORS FROM ALASKA
A look at U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye's 2003-04 contributions from Alaska donors involved in the Sen. Ted Stevens federal investigation:
Bill Allen, VECO, CEO, $2,000. Pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy, bribery and tax charges.
Richard Smith, VECO, vice president and lobbyist, $2000. Pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy, bribery and tax charges.
Mark Allen, VECO, director, $2,000
Jeanette Allen, wife of Mark Allen, $2,000
James Stack, VECO, position not disclosed, $1,000
Peter Leathard, VECO, president and COO, $2,000, named in FBI search warrant of Alaska legislative offices
Federal Election Commission records show that in 2003, Bill Allen, the former VECO chief executive who pleaded guilty to paying more than $400,000 in bribes to members of the Alaska Legislature, gave Inouye $2,000.
Others connected to VECO gave Inouye $9,000.
Two federal grand juries, one in Alaska and one in Washington, D.C., are investigating Stevens and VECO. Earlier this week the FBI and the IRS raided Stevens' Alaska home.
Asked about the contributions, Inouye said through a spokesman, "It is no secret that Sen. Ted Stevens and I are close friends and that we have helped each other's campaigns."
But Inouye noted he did not "know personally the individuals from Alaska who made the contributions, and I did not solicit contributions from them. Moreover, nothing about the contributions at the time they were made appeared irregular."
The Washington Post reported this week that Inouye said Tuesday he had spoken to Stevens about the federal investigation and felt that Stevens did nothing wrong.
"He's convinced, I think, that he didn't do anything wrong. He's my friend, and he'll continue to be my friend," Inouye told the Post.
Inouye added that the VECO contributors to his campaign during the 2003-04 cycle accounted for only a tiny fraction of the $3 million that was raised, and they also comprised less than 1 percent of the nearly 2,000 contributors to his campaign.
Other Alaska contributors to Inouye with ties to Stevens include Ed Rasmuson, who gave Inouye $1,000, and Carl and Joy Marrs, who also gave Inouye $1,000 each in 2003. Marrs and Rasmuson were partners with Stevens in Alaska's Great Eagle LLC, which was formed to buy a race horse.
Earlier this year the Alaska Federation of Natives honored Inouye and Stevens with a special ceremony.
The program noted the pair have been politically linked for decades.
"Although these two great men sit on opposite sides of the aisle, they share an unbreakable bond of friendship and camaraderie. Sen. Inouye and Sen. Stevens each served in World War II; each studied law and each fought for statehood in their home territories of Hawaii and Alaska," a program at the ceremony read.
Today, Stevens, 83, is the subject of federal investigations into his ties with managers of VECO, Alaska's largest oil services company.
The Alaska Daily News reported that one current and two former Alaska legislators pleaded not guilty in May to extortion and taking bribes to support legislation benefiting the company. Days later, Bill Allen, VECO founder and CEO, and a VECO vice president both pleaded guilty to bribing state lawmakers in exchange for votes on oil legislation favorable to the industry.
Also involved in the investigation is Stevens' son, Ben, a former president of the Alaska Senate.
Stevens is a political icon in Alaska. The airport in Anchorage bears his name. Stevens, like Inouye, served on the defense appropriations subcommittee.
Observers say the two collaborate closely and are responsible for much of the national annual defense spending bill.
The pair also travels together. In 2002, Stevens and Inouye went to Indonesia to discuss military cooperation with the Indonesian army.