It's a sad day for Alaska when a leader as influential and respected as Ted Stevens, 30-year veteran of the U.S. Senate, has his house searched by FBI and IRS agents.
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Sen. Stevens has allowed a personal friendship to draw him into a potentially questionable arrangement with Bill Allen, long Alaska's most powerful and controversial political fundraiser.
When Stevens agreed to let Allen oversee remodeling of his Girdwood home, was Allen merely the project manager, or did he pay for part of the improvements?
Stevens' only comment so far did not squarely answer the question.
"We paid every bill that was given to us," he said. That leaves open the possibility that some bills never made it to him. And that would land him in big legal trouble.
It's possible Stevens did nothing wrong in this case. Federal authorities will comb through the files and compare improvements made to bills paid. If everything balances out, Stevens may be in the clear on this one.
Nonetheless, his reputation has been tarnished. During his three decades in the Senate, his power over legislation and funding has touched every corner of the state. Once heralded as Alaskan of the Century, and rightfully so, he made misjudgments about arranging his personal and financial affairs. He did not keep a healthy distance from those who cultivated his favor and would benefit from his influence.
The clouds of possible corruption surrounding Stevens and Congressman Don Young have made headlines in national media. Meanwhile, Sen. Lisa Murkowski is still drawing national scrutiny from her aborted land deal with a friend and campaign contributor.
This is not a proud time to be an Alaskan.
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