WASHINGTON -- The Republican Party of Alaska has given to charity about two-thirds of the money donated by employees of Veco Corp., the now-defunct oil services company whose two top executives were convicted in a federal corruption probe.
The money was given to the Republican Party from 1997 forward. It's what remained unspent by the party as of 2006 when the corruption investigation became widely known, said the party's spokesman, McHugh Pierre.
It adds up to $34,500 of the estimated $56,000 donated by the company's executives, including $17,000 from Bill Allen, Veco's former chief executive.
Allen and Rick Smith, the company's former vice president of community affairs and government relations, pleaded guilty in 2007 to providing more than $400,000 in corrupt payments to public officials from Alaska. Both are cooperating with federal investigators and have been key witnesses in subsequent corruption trials. U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens was indicted Tuesday on seven counts of making false statements about gifts he received from Allen.
The Veco campaign donations were given to the state Republican Party legally and under the required federal disclosure guidelines. But Pierre said the Republican Party froze the unspent Veco money in 2006 "as soon as those allegations came forward that the senior managers at Veco were being investigated by the FBI for these corruption, bribery and conspiracy claims."
"It's the right thing to do in our eyes," Pierre said. "We don't want to be associated with these allegations. We felt that the best image to put forward was to give the money to charity."
In late 2007, they put together a committee to decide which charities to donate the money to, Pierre said. A half-dozen charities, mostly serving veterans, were sent checks at the beginning of 2008, Pierre said.
Most of the money came in to the party from Veco as part of the 2000 election cycle, Pierre said. Much of it was used to underwrite absentee ballot mailers, which were sent out to voters asking them if they wanted the party to request an absentee ballot for them. Such mailers allow political parties to have a reliable pre-election count of voters who are likely to cast ballots for their candidates.
Veco executives stopped donating as much to the party after the 2000 election because they preferred giving to individual candidates, Pierre said.
The charities that received the money are:
The Providence Foundation for Hospice, Anchorage, $4,500.
Taps Support to Family Survivors, $10,000.
American Veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam for Support the Troops for Amvets Post #9 of Wasilla, $5,000.
Friends of the Guard and Reserves, $5,000.
Alaska Territorial Guard Group, $3,000.
The American Veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam for the Wounded Warrior Project, $7,000.