Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) testified in his criminal trial this morning that he was at his Girdwood home only two days in 2000 while extensive renovations were going on, and that his wife managed the project and paid all the bills for the contractors.
Stevens stands accused of seven counts of knowingly filing incorrect financial disclosure forms. The government alleges that Stevens received around $250,000 worth of gifts from various people, including about $188,000 in renovations to his Alaska home from his friend Bill Allen, the CEO of the now-defunct oil services firm VECO.
The government has called several VECO employees including Allen who testified that the company was paying for hundreds of man-hours as well as supplies for the construction of a steel staircase, a two-tier wraparound deck, a balcony and collapsible fire escape ladder and other major renovations at the house. Stevens took the stand Thursday and said he never intentionally filed false financial disclosure forms.
Under questioning this morning from his attorney Brendan Sullivan, the Senator said that he liquidated a $50,000 investment trust and his wife took out a $100,000 line of credit at an Alaska bank to pay for the renovations. Catherine Stevens testified yesterday that she took charge for the renovation project because she was between jobs and her husband was too busy to manage it.
Ted Stevens testified that when Catherine agreed to take charge of the project, I was happy about that because she is generally much more concerned than he is about the maintenance and decoration of their homes.
What goes on in the house is Catherines business; what goes on outside is my business, he said.
Sullivan showed the jury an August 2000 note Stevens had sent to the architect who drew up the plans for the renovation and asking for a bill. Stevens thanked the architect, John Hess, and wrote, Now I want you to give us a bill for your work ... under our Senate rules, I must pay you what you have done.
Hess worked for VECO, and he never sent Stevens a bill. His services are part of the costs that the government alleges Stevens was getting for free.