Agents from the FBI and the IRS served a search warrant on the Anchorage, Alaska, home of Republican Sen. Ted Stevens Monday, opening the front door with the help of a locksmith and spending at least 10 hours photographing and cataloging what they found inside.
While the FBI declined to comment publicly on the reason for the raid, an unidentified law enforcement official has confirmed that it's connected to the ongoing investigation into the senator's relationship to the oil field services company VECO.
VECO's CEO and vice president have both pleaded guilty to charges that they bribed Alaska state lawmakers. A contractor who worked on a big 2000 remodeling of Stevens' home has told the Anchorage Daily News that he was hired for the job by VECO CEO Bill Allen and that VECO reviewed all his bills before they were paid by Stevens and his wife. As the Daily News has reported previously, federal prosecutors have noted that VECO isn't usually in the residential remodeling business. The questions to be answered: Did VECO actually pay for the remodeling, and, if so, what, if anything, did Stevens do for VECO in return?
As the Daily News reports today, law enforcement officials seemed particularly interested in the remodeling during their search Monday: "The agents were obviously cataloging the house and its fixtures, from light switches and electrical outlets to a big stainless steel barbecue grill on a second-floor deck that neighbors said was hoisted there with a crane," the paper reports. "At one point, agents climbed on the pitched metal roof to take pictures of heat tape in the gutters."
Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, magnanimously declined to comment on the search -- in the interest, he said, of not appearing to exert any undue influence on the course of the investigation. "This investigation should proceed to its conclusion without any appearance that I have attempted to influence its outcome," the senator said in statement. "I know Alaskans are interested in my views on the investigation. While I understand this interest and would like to discuss these issues in great detail, the interests of justice and our state are best served if I make my comments after federal officials complete their work."