WASHINGTON – Make no mistake, Sen. Ted Stevens still has plenty of friends. Despite a looming FBI corruption probe, Republican colleagues opened their wallets for their longtime colleague in recent months to support his re-election campaign.
The Alaska senator has more than $1 million in campaign cash and enjoyed tens of thousands of dollars in support from political action committees and campaign funds controlled by his fellow GOP lawmakers. This despite an FBI raid on his house and court testimony that an oil contractor paid employees to renovate the senator's home.
Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch led the way, donating $10,000 from his political action committee and another $4,000 from his campaign fund. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Kit Bond of Missouri each added $10,000 from their political action committees, according to campaign reports released Friday.
"Sen. Bond has supported his longtime friend and colleague Senator Stevens for many years," Bond spokeswoman Shana Marchio said Friday.
Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott's political action committee donated $5,000 and Colorado Sen. Wayne Allard's campaign chipped in $4,000. In all, the Stevens campaign raised more than $463,000 since July 1, making it one of the senator's most successful fundraising quarters.
"It is significant that people who have known him a long time, whether they're Alaskans or other members of the Senate, support him and are being generous," said Stevens campaign treasurer Tim McKeever.
Though some watchdog groups have urged Stevens to relinquish his seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee, senators in both parties have said they won't rush to judgment.
Two little-known Democrats — Rocky Caldero and Frank Vondersaar — have filed paperwork to run for Stevens' seat. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has been mentioned as a possible Republican primary opponent for Stevens, who has held his seat since 1968.
The FBI is investigating Stevens' ties to oil services company VECO Corp. Founder Bill Allen, who has pleaded guilty to bribing lawmakers. Allen testified that his employees renovated the senator's house. Stevens has said he paid every bill he received and has denied any wrongdoing.