FBI Listened in on Ted Stevens Phone Calls

September 21, 2007 9:52 a.m.

The FBI is so interested in what Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) says to former Veco CEO Bill Allen that they secretly taped his calls to hear. There is no word yet on the content of the conversations.

The recorded calls between Stevens and businessman Bill Allen were confirmed by two people close to the case who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still under way. They declined to say how many calls were recorded or what was said.

Allen, a wealthy businessman and Stevens’ political patron, agreed to the taping last year after authorities confronted him with evidence he had bribed Alaska lawmakers. He pleaded guilty to bribery and is a key witness against Alaska legislators. He also has told prosecutors he paid his employees to renovate the senator’s house.

Allen pleaded guilty himself to corruption charges and is cooperating in the broad investigation. During the corruption trial of former state Rep. Pete Kott (R-AK) this week, prosecutors played a recorded phone conversation between Kott and Allen where Kott admits Allen tucked extra money into a payment for a legitimate flooring project. The Anchorage Daily News has the audio here. (On the call, Kott and Allen also touch on Kott’s dream of becoming a prison warden in Barbados.)

The AP also reveals that Stevens, whose home was raided by the FBI in June, has been of interest to investigators long before that.Note: Here’s one for the annals of reporting. I was surprised when I didn’t see the AP’s story on how the FBI taped phone conversations between Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) and former Veco CEO Bill Allen at the top of Alaska’s biggest paper, the Anchorage Daily News this morning.

Daily News editors explained that they did not run legal affairs reporter Matt Apuzzo’s story in the main section because Apuzzo based his scoop on the word of two anonymous sources. The Daily News policy on anonymous sources is not hard and fast, but here are the guidelines:

– Do we ourselves know the identities of the sources, even if we cannot publish their names, and do we know them to be credible?

– Would the sources be put in serious personal jeopardy if they were named?

– Would the information otherwise never be revealed, and is it important from a public policy standpoint?

The stoic editors concluded:

We have no way to evaluate the truth of the AP story because we don’t know the sources and we haven’t gotten independent confirmation ourselves. If the facts are true, they are likely to come out in due time.

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