Thursday, August 16, 2007

FBI Scrutinizes Unlikely Veco Contracts

The FBI wants to know why oil services company Veco Corp. won federal contracts worth $170 million to provide the National Science Foundation with polar and arctic research support, despite having no experience in the field, the Anchorage Daily News reports.

Veco won the federal awards right around the time CEO Bill Allen oversaw the remodeling of Stevens' Girdwood home, another field in which Veco had no prior experience.

Stevens, who has long supported NSF arctic research, would have had authority over NSF funding as a senior member of the Senate Commerce Committee, though no evidence has surfaced holding Stevens responsible for directly securing the contracts for Veco.

The Daily News spoke with former chairman of the Arctic Research Commission, George Newton about the contracts:

Newton said that when it came time in 1999 to award a polar logistics contract,
it was believed within the NSF and in polar research circles that Veco's
relationship to Stevens' son might give the company an advantage.
Stevens' son, former Alaska Senate President Ben Stevens, was identified as one of the state lawmakers namelessly described in Bill Allen's bribery guilty plea. According to the plea, Stevens' company received $243,250 in "consulting fees" from Veco.

Over the years, Veco has won many federal contracts, but throughout the course of the Stevens scandal so far, it's been unclear what exactly the company has allegedly received in exchange for all of the nice gifts and favors sent the way of state and federal politicians. We asked what it is Veco receives back in June and noted the NSF contracts, but this is the first specific contract we've heard of facing FBI scrutiny.

- Laura McGann, TMP

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