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Stevens' Alleged Help in Pakistan Deal

From a Viking grill to a home overhaul, we know what allegedly unreported goodies Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) received that have him now facing a seven-count indictment. What's not clear is exactly what -- if any -- goodies the oil company, VECO, might have received in return.

Credit: Lauren Victoria Burke/wdcpix.com The indictment says, "Stevens could and did use his official position and his office on behalf of VECO." Requests from the company included "funding requests and other assistance with certain international VECO projects and partnerships, including those in Pakistan and Russia."

The Los Angeles Times, whose early reporting apparently jump-started the whole investigation, reports on one instance in which Stevens proved to be quite helpful to VECO. In late 1999, Pakistan was pushing for the removal of U.S. economic sanctions imposed after Pakistan's nuclear test the year before:

The provision giving the White House permanent authority to lift the sanctions against Pakistan appeared to be sailing through Congress -- attached to the Defense Department appropriations bill that was moving through Stevens' conference committee.

But it ran into trouble with Stevens, who was also the powerful chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its Defense Department appropriations subcommittee.

Stevens raised the issue of a contract dispute VECO was having with Pakistan over payment for VECO's participation in construction of a pipeline. He wanted Pakistan to resolve it.

Pakistan quickly got the message. The country promised "it would let the World Bank arbitrate the dispute." After which, Stevens "let the amendment allowing for the sanctions to be dropped go through on Oct. 7, 1999."

Charlie Wilson -- yes, that one -- was at the time a lobbyist for Pakistan. He told the Times he didn't see a problem with Stevens' help. "His constituent had a just grievance with Pakistan," said Wilson in a 2003 interview. "The truth is that Sen. Stevens' constituent was right...Pakistan corrected it."

Today's article in the Times also mentions another bit of help Stevens gave VECO:

In the fall of 1999, he earmarked $2.5 million in Labor Department funds to train Russian oil field workers in Alaska.

Allen and VECO and others pushed for the grant because they were having a difficult time finding skilled workers for their oil and gas projects on Sakhalin Island in Russia's Far East.

There's no word on whether the Russian help worked out.

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