After Raid, Watchdogs Seek Senator’s Ousters

By Justin Rood

Jul 31, 2007 11:58am

Less than a day after FBI and IRS agents raided the Alaska home of Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, as part of a sprawling corruption probe, two good-government groups are calling for him to forfeit his powerful committee seats, including one which controls the FBI’s budget. "It is imperative that no member under federal investigation be involved in the oversight or appropriations of any agency involved in investigating that member," stated the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) in a release Tuesday. The group is asking Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in the history of the Senate, to step down from the appropriations panel overseeing the FBI’s budget. Blotter: FBI, IRS Search Home of Sen. Ted Stevens Meanwhile, the nonpartisan watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense has asked Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to push Stevens to give up not only his appropriations committee seat, but also his seat on the Commerce, Science and Transportation committee, until the investigation is resolved. "The standard for holding a powerful committee position should not hinge on the absence of a criminal conviction," wrote the group’s president Ryan Alexander. Neither Stevens nor McConnell immediately responded to a request for comment Tuesday. Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage. A federal grand jury has been investigating the senator’s ties to VECO, an Alaska oil services firm, including the firm’s involvement in improvements to the senator’s Girdwood, Alaska, home, which nearly doubled its size. VECO is in the middle of a statewide corruption investigation that has tarnished Stevens’ son, Ben, a state senator. The FBI raided Ben’s offices last August. Stevens has denied wrongdoing in the matter. Yesterday, he declined to comment on the merits of the investigation, other than to urge his constituents "not to form conclusions based upon incomplete and sometimes incorrect reports in the media." Stevens is thought to be the first sitting senator to have his house raided by the FBI. The FBI has raided houses belonging to three lawmakers this year. In April, agents served warrants at houses owned by Reps. John Doolittle, R-Calif., and Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., in separate corruption investigations. Both men have denied wrongdoing. Shortly after those raids, the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives urged both men to give up their seats on key committees.  Both men consented. By contrast, the Democratic House leadership has not pushed one of their own, Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., to remove himself from the panel overseeing the FBI’s budget, after news of an investigation into his land deals surfaced. Mollohan has said he would recuse himself from voting on any matter affecting the FBI’s budget, although he recently violated that promise, according the Roll Call newspaper, by voting against an amendment that would have added $6 million to the bureau’s budget. Do you have a tip for Brian Ross and the Investigative Team?

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