Oil, Politics Swirl in Stevens' Trial

Key witness in Alaskan senator's alleged corruption an oilman who 'owned' pols
By Jess Kilby,  Newser User
Posted Sep 22, 2008 5:01 AM CDT
VECO Corp. founder Bill Allen in Anchorage, where Alaska. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska has been indicted on seven counts of failing to disclose thousands of dollars in services he received from Allen.   (AP Photo/Al Grillo)
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(Newser) – As the corruption trial against Alaska Sen.Ted Stevens gets started today, the politician is preparing to face off against a gritty oilman who has bragged about "owning" state lawmakers, reports the New York Times. The chief defense witness in Stevens' corruption trial is Bill Allen, a high-school dropout who worked his way up from welder to founder and CEO of one of the state’s most powerful companies.

“I don’t think they were real good friends,” said one observer. “But in Alaska, people like that inevitably become accustomed to dealing with each other.” Stevens faces seven felony counts for allegedly failing to disclose more than $250,000 in gifts from Allen, who has already pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy charges and faces up to 11 years in prison.