TPM News

The House Judiciary Committee's ongoing battle with Karl Rove continues today, with a vote on holding the former White House Chief of Staff in contempt.

Rove has refused to answer to a subpoena to testify before Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) committee, answering only in writing to questions from the minority representation of the HJC.

The vote is the first thing on the committee's agenda for their meeting today which starts at 10:15 AM ET. Be sure to check back for updates on the outcome of the proceedings.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will get a chance to grill Department of Justice Inspector General Glenn Fine today about the report he released Monday.

Fine's 140-page report detailed incidents of DOJ officials violating federal law by using political considerations in the hiring of some federal prosecutors and judges.

Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has harshly criticized the DOJ for the misconduct outlined in the report.

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) is due in federal court in Washington tomorrow for arraignment on seven counts of failing to disclose gifts from an Alaska oil firm.

The 84-year-old senator is scheduled to appear at 1 p.m. before U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who was appointed by President Clinton in 1994.

Stevens was ordered to contact pretrial services for a preliminary interview before the arraignment.

The federal prosecutors expected to handle the case are Joseph W. Bottini and James A. Goeke, court records show.

Democratic Senators from the Environment and Public Works Committee called for the resignation of EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, in a press release published this afternoon.

Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) was joined by committee members Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) in charging that Johnson had given "misleading testimony before Congress," "refused to cooperate" with Oversight investigations and had politicized decisions before the EPA.

From the EPW press release:

The senators asked Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey to investigate apparent contradictions between the sworn testimony of Administrator Johnson and the testimony of other sworn witnesses regarding the circumstances surrounding EPA's denial California's request for a waiver under the Clean Air Act to set strong standards for global warming emissions from vehicles.


Johnson has repeatedly refused to appear before Congressional committees, including the Senate Judiciary Committee, who canceled a hearing scheduled for tomorrow, July 30, after Johnson informed them he would not be coming.

When Johnson has testified, however, as he did in May before the House Oversight committee, he has often driven questioners to furious distraction in his refusal to answer questions, and his inability to recount events.

We've had a lot of coverage today at TPMmuckraker on the freshly indicted Sen. Ted Stevens (R), but we've actually been following Uncle Ted and his son, Ben, here at TPMm for more than a year.

So for the benefit of our readers we thought we'd wrap it up into one neat little package so you can see how an 84 year-old U.S. Senator can go from free gas grills to federal indictment.

Ladies and gentleman, we present: The Ted Stevens' Road to Ruin, the ultimate in Ted Stevens' timelines.




So what did VECO get in return?

Federal prosecutors unveiled a narrowly focused indictment today for Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), limiting the criminal charges to the senator's disclosure forms and what the Alaska-based energy services firm did for the lawmaker.

But there was, briefly, a small set of allegations about the longtime senator did for the company.

Among them, federal prosecutors say, Stevens provided: "funding requests and other assistance with certain international VECO projects and partnerships, including those in Pakistan and Russia."

We've heard allegations of favors related to Pakistan before.

In the late 1990s, VECO built a $70 million pipeline for Pakistan and the military dictatorship running the country was slow to pay its bill. That is until Pakistan needed help from Congress on a trade issue, and Stevens was positioned to block the legislation at issue. Pakistan paid its tab soon after concluding it might help them out on Capitol Hill, according to the Los Angeles Times.

As for Russia, it's unclear exactly what the prosecutors are referring to. VECO did a lot of business in Russia, often subcontracting work for large multinational oil companies. Also in 2005, VECO hired Steven's son, Ben Stevens, to lobby the World Bank to get money the company needed for a spill cleanup job in Russia.

It's hard to know precisely. And that's probably one reason the feds limited the prosecution of Stevens to false statements made on his financial disclosure forms. Proving quid pro quo in court is exceptionally hard.

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) who was indicted today on seven counts of false statements, has released a statement through his Senate office:

I have proudly served this nation and Alaska for over 50 years. My public service began when I served in World War II. It saddens me to learn that these charges have been brought against me. I have never knowingly submitted a false disclosure form required by law as a U.S. Senator. In accordance with Senate Republican Conference rules, I have temporarily relinquished my vice-chairmanship and ranking positions until I am absolved of these charges. The impact of these charges on my family disturbs me greatly. I am innocent of these charges and intend to prove that.

From Roll Call:

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who has been indicted on seven counts of making false statements on his financial disclosure forms, has stepped down from his post atop two committees, according to a senior GOP aide.

Republicans may vote as early as Wednesday afternoon to select replacements.

Consistent with GOP bylaws that require Members who are under felony indictment to relinquish their ranking posts on committees, Stevens, the longest-serving Republican Senator, has officially stepped down as ranking member of both the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

The recent indictment of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) is up in TPMmuckraker's document collection, but here's a quick and dirty summary of the seven counts of false statements which are based on his personal financial disclosure forms from 1999 to 2006.

According to the indictment, Stevens concealed "things of value," estimated at around $250,000, from his publicly filed personal financial disclosure forms over the past seven years. It is this concealment, and not the legality of accepting those "things of value," that is at issue.

We've reported extensively on those gifts from VECO and VECO's former CEO Bill Allen which are the primary exchanges named in the indictment.

While Allen pleaded guilty to bribery charges over these gifts in 2007, it's important to note that no bribery charges are being filed against Stevens.

For the DOJ comments on the indictment, check out our video of the press conference.

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) was indicted today for accepting more than $250,000 in undisclosed renovations and repairs for his home in Girwood, Alaska, according to Stevens' indictment.

Stevens' friend William Allen, the head of VECO company, was providing most of the labor and some supplies for the projects, but never charged Stevens for the work, according to the indictment today.

In 2000, Stevens and Allen began discussing renovations for his home, putting together a plan that would eventually include a full basement, first-floor addition with multiple bedrooms and a bathroom, the indictment said.

It was a massive undertaking. Workers took the small home and jacked it up on stilts, then built a new first floor underneath with two bedrooms and a bathroom, the indictment said.

Then workers added a garage with a workshop and a second-story wraparound deck. VECO employees and contractors also installed electrical, plumbing, framing, heating, and flooring materials, the indictment said.

In 2001, Allen gave Stevens some furniture, a new Viking gas grill and a new tool shed full of tools, according to the indictment.

In 2002, VECO continued work on the outside of the house, installing a first-floor wraparound deck, a plastic roof between the first- and second-floor decks, and a lighting system worth a total of about $55,000, the indictment said.

In 2004, VECO installed some kitchen appliances in the house, the indictment said.

In 2005, the company did some repairs to the roof and gutters, the indictment said.

In 2006, Stevens called Allen and asked him to repair his boiler system. Allen instructed the contractor to divide the bill into two parts, supplies and labor. Allen told the contractor to send the bill for supplies to Stevens and the labor to Allen, the indictment said.

Stevens knew this, and at least once asked Allen to send him the invoice for the labor, but Allen never did and Stevens never reimbursed him, the indictment said.

The home renovations were not the first time Stevens had accepted favors from Allen.

Back in 1999, Stevens mentioned to Allen that he wanted to get a new car for his daughter. That led to a deal in which Allen gave Stevens a new 1999 Land Rover Discovery, worth $44,000. In exchange, Stevens gave Allen a 1964½ Ford Mustang and $5,000. Prosecutors say the Mustang was worth less than $20,000.

In September 2000, Stephens wrote Allen an email about the work:

"we've never worked with a man so easy to get along with as [a VECO employee], Plus, everyone who's seen the place wants to know who has done the things he's done. . . . You and [PERSON A] have been the spark plugs and we are really pleased with all you have done. hope to see you and the chalet soon. best teds."

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