When FBI agents raided
the offices of Alaska Senate President Ben Stevens and five other legislators, they were looking for evidence of improper ties between those state lawmakers and a company called VECO Corp.
That left some scratching their heads. What's VECO?
Based in Alaska, the privately-owned, non-union company deals primarily in petroleum and petroleum-related services; its estimated revenue in 2004 was $500 million, and it employs around 5,000 people worldwide. That's small by oil megacorporation standards, but it's big in Alaska, where the company has been called "a titan in the Alaskan oil industry."
VECO has over two dozen subsidiaries, but it likes to spend money on influence. It's the top campaign contributor to both Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) and its congressman, Don Young (R).
And although it's only the second-biggest contributor to Sen. Ted Stevens (R), with over $70,000 in donations to the senior senator from VECO employees (according to FECInfo.com), it keeps close ties to Stevens in other ways.
For one, it's dumped $25,000 into his "Northern Lights" political action committee. The company also paid his state Senator son, Ben (he of the raided office) over $200,000 for various reported purposes, including lobbying his father. What's more, the son of VECO president Pete Lethard was reported to work for Stevens in Washington, D.C.
Also, the company briefly owned the Anchorage Times
; in 1992 it shut the paper down, and switched to funding a half-page of editorials in the Anchorage Daily News
. The section, called "Voice of the Times," is reportedly devoted to "conservative," "pro-industry" views.