Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) has been indicted on seven counts of making false statements for failing to disclose gifts he received from VECO, an Alaskan oil services company. Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, is the first sitting senator to be indicted since 1993. His indictment is the most recent incident in a series of corruption and nepotism charges that have dogged Alaska state politicians in recent years.

Gifts Stevens is accused of receiving from VECO include major home renovations, a car, and other big-ticket items. According to prosecutors, Stevens solicited these gifts while VECO employees solicited official actions from Stevens in return, such as assistance in obtaining federal grants for the company’s projects.

Stevens’s indictment follows over four years of federal investigations into Alaskan political corruption. Three state legislators have been convicted, and two more are awaiting trial. At least four other Alaska officials and VECO employees, including the chief of staff to former Governor Frank Murkowski (R), have been charged and pleaded guilty to various corruption and/or bribery charges. Representative Don Young (R-AK), Alaska’s only member of the House of Representatives, is also under investigation.

Editorial Note: My wife Melissa is an employee of CH2M Hill, which acquired VECO in September 2007. The alleged incidents of bribery occurred before the acquisition, and Melissa works in a different operating division of the company.