After 2-month delay, Stevens releases report
Jeannette J. Lee
Associated Press Writer
U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, filed the annual report on his personal finances with the Senate Ethics Committee July 17 after receiving a two-month extension to fix what he called a few simple technical errors.
The delay was not unusual for members of Congress, but with his son under investigation by the FBI for corruption, Stevens said he wanted to make sure his report, detailing income, assets and gifts from 2006, was unassailable.
“The delay happened, really, because I asked for it, because of the circumstances right now,” Stevens said July 17. The 83-year-old senator said nothing in the mandatory disclosure report has anything to do with the investigation.
FBI raids on the offices of several Alaska lawmakers last year included his son, former Alaska Senate President Ben Stevens.
The FBI has asked the elder Stevens, who is the longest-serving Republican in Senate history, to retain his records. The agency is looking into the remodeling of the senator’s Girdwood home in 2000 in connection with the investigation, which is ongoing.
Neither the senator nor his son has been charged.
Most members filed in mid-MayMost members of Congress submitted their financial disclosure reports in mid-May. Stevens said the filing delay was due to questions by the Senate Ethics Committee over his wife’s 401K, as well as a few small mistakes.
“I put an X on front page in the wrong box,” Stevens said.
A copy of the report provided by Stevens’ office to The Associated Press shows his assets are worth between $1 million and to $2.1 million, with about half in a blind trust. Individual assets include oil well interests in Oklahoma worth $50,001 to $100,000 and rental housing in Wickenburg, Ariz., in the same range. Local holdings include commercial property and a share in Sack’s Restaurant, a downtown Anchorage eatery. Each is worth between $15,001 and $50,000.
“People write all these stories about senators being rich. This one isn’t,” Stevens said.
The senator’s disclosure report also included a retroactive list of gifts he received from the Kenai River Sportfishing Association. The group works to protect salmon runs on the Kenai River and was founded by Stevens’ friend and business partner Bob Penney.
Penney and Stevens were part of a group of 10 prominent Alaskans who owned a racehorse together under a company called Alaska’s Great Eagle, which is also listed on the senator’s disclosure form. Penney testified in June before a federal grand jury in Anchorage that has gathered information in the corruption cases.
Stevens hosts the fishing association’s annual fundraiser and, according to the report, received guns priced from $850 to $1,800 over the course of five years starting in 2002. They included a $1,400 Smith & Wesson and an $1,800 Beretta 470 Silver Eagle.
The firearms were awarded in recognition of public service, exempting them from a Senate rule that prohibits most gifts worth more than $49.99.
FBI looking at home remodelingThe senator commented briefly on the remodeling of his home in the sleepy ski resort town of Girdwood that doubled the size of the house, a four-bedroom structure that is Stevens’ official residence in Alaska.
A contractor who did work on the house has said he was directed to send bills to the oilfield services company, VECO, headed by Stevens’ friend Bill Allen, who has been indicted on political bribery charges. Someone at the company would examine them for accuracy before sending them to Stevens.
“I will tell you we paid every bill that was given to us with our own money,” Stevens said, referring to himself and his wife. “She works and I work. That was our own money.”
Stevens said he could not answer questions in detail because of the FBI investigation.
“If I do, I’m liable to be accused of obstruction of justice,” he said.
Stevens said attorney Bill Canfield assisted in vetting his financial disclosures. Canfield was Stevens’ chief of staff when the senator headed the Senate Ethics Committee.