Republican lawmakers face corruption probe
Raw Story/AFP
July 25, 2007

Two senior Republican lawmakers are reportedly under criminal investigation for alleged corruption linked to an Alaska oil services company.

Federal authorities are looking into whether Representative Don Young or Senator Ted Stevens accepted bribes, illegal gratuities or unreported gifts from VECO Corp., an oil field engineering firm in Alaska, the Wall Street Journal wrote, citing unnamed "people close to the case."

It remained unclear what the company may have received in return for the alleged favors, the newspaper said. The firm has won a series of federal government contracts since 2000, including projects to deliver logistics support for arctic research, it said.

The two lawmakers are the latest to come under federal investigation after a series of corruption probes in recent years that sent two members of Congress to prison and resulted in a bribery indictment of another lawmaker.

The investigations have hurt President George W. Bush's Republican party, with some party members blaming the corruption cases for helping hand their Democratic rivals control of Congress in legislative elections last year.

VECO is reportedly the focus of a federal probe of corruption in Alaska's state legislature but it was the first time Young has been linked to the inquiry, the Journal said.

Government authorities arrested three state lawmakers earlier this year as part of a sweeping corruption investigation in the state of Alaska. Former VECO chief executive officer Bill Allen agreed in May to plead guilty to charges of bribery, conspiracy and extortion.

A spokesman for Young, who has served 18 terms in the House of Representatives, declined to comment on any possible investigation, the paper said.

The newspaper reported the lawmaker has hired a criminal defense team and has paid out 262,000 dollars in legal fees in the past three months.

Stevens also declined to discuss the investigation.

"This investigation should proceed to its conclusion without any appearance that I have attempted to influence its outcome," the senator said through a spokesman, the paper reported.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation last year raided the offices of Stevens' son, Ben Stevens, and seized papers related to VECO's pipeline projects and other documents, the Journal said.

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