ANCHORAGE - Sen. Lisa Murkowski intends to continue her effort to hold top Justice Department officials accountable for dropping the teen sexual exploitation prosecution of former Veco Corp. chairman Bill Allen.
With Murkowski's write-in victory clearing a key legal hurdle last week, Murkowski said she plans to grill top Justice Department officials during appropriations hearings, or from her post on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.
"I really want to have this on the public record," she said in a telephone interview with the Anchorage Daily News last week from Washington.
The 73-year-old Allen was once a powerful business and political figure in Alaska. Now, he's serving a three-year sentence at a federal prison in California for bribery and related tax charges. He pleaded guilty and was the government's star witness in the corruption trial of the late U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens. The charges against Stevens were later thrown out because of prosecutorial misconduct.
Numerous witnesses, police and federal investigators said Allen also pursued teenage girls, several as young as 15, and paid them for sex. However, Allen has never been charged and has denied any wrongdoing.
According to authorities, one girl said Allen knew her age when he paid her for sex. She said she moved to Seattle with her boyfriend when she was 16 but that didn't stop Allen. She told authorities that Allen then flew her to Anchorage about five times, paying her thousands of dollars each time and putting her up in a hotel.
Anchorage detectives said they spent several years investigating her assertions and had corroborated much of her story. They worked with a prosecutor from the Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and planned to present a case to a federal grand jury. But this summer top officials in the Justice Department vetoed Allen's prosecution.
Murkowski said she was outraged by the decision.
"This guy had money and connections, so therefore we're not going to go after him, when he knew that he was violating all kinds of federal laws in terms of transporting her between states?" she said. "It was just reprehensible."