Stevens reaps profits from Utah subdivision investment

Alaska senator's investment grows by at least 566 percent

Posted: Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Sen. Ted Stevens has turned a $15,000 investment into at least $100,000, and perhaps as much as $250,000.

Stevens, R-Alaska, joined with Anchorage developer Bob Penney and other partners to develop a subdivision in Grantsville, Utah. Stevens invested his share in 1998. That investment has grown, at the very least, 566 percent over five years.

Stevens' office declined to discuss the investment.

"When it comes to the senator's growth or losses in his financial disclosure form, his financial disclosure form is all that we're required to release, so we're not going to expand upon it," spokeswoman Courtney Schikora told The Anchorage Daily News.

Penney said he and his business partners invited Stevens to join them in "appreciation for all he's done for Alaska and the country. We respect him very, very much."

Penney is an Alaska businessman with a passion for sportfishing on the Kenai. He often hosts Stevens and other senators, as well as governors and Cabinet secretaries, at his lodgelike residence on the river.

He and his wife, Jeannie, throw the opening reception for the Kenai River Classic, an annual charity fishing tournament featuring Stevens and other political VIPs.

Stevens was a bit more forthcoming about his finances last year when he described his investments with real estate developer John Rubini. Stevens invested $50,000 in a Rubini project in 1997. Six years later, it was worth at least $750,000 and maybe as much as $1.5 million.

"You have to admit, (it) is a hell of a return on the investment for what I put in it," the senator said last year.

Penney, reached at his home on the banks of the Kenai River, said the senator's gains in Utah are all on paper.

"You have to take into consideration that we financed a lot of it with debt," Penney said. "There's not going to be any money out to any of the partners until the development's done and the debt is paid."

As a limited partner, Stevens would not be liable for the debt if the project failed, Penney said.

Grantsville is about 30 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, in a county that nearly doubled its population in the 1990s.

Penney said the project he and Stevens are invested in involves a 96-acre tract. They've subdivided it and sold about 14 lots, Penney said. They hope to sell a total of 30 to 40 over three to 10 years, he said.

Penney and Stevens each own 25 percent of the Grantsville Development Co., according to documents filed with the state of Alaska.

Former Anchorage resident Veronica Montgomery owns 40 percent, and Penney's son Henry Penney owns 10 percent. Montgomery is the girlfriend of Joe Cange, a former Anchorage developer who has been working on the project in Grantsville, Penney said.

Stevens, in the disclosure form required annually of all senators, reported that last year he earned "income" of $65,018 from the Grantsville development. Penney said that figure corresponds to the amount the investment appreciated over the year, not any cash payments.

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