The trial of an Alaska politician found guilty of taking bribes from the oil industry has offered a glimpse into more widespread corruption in the state's government.
Details emerged in the trial of former state House Speaker Pete Kott about oil-friendly legislators who dubbed themselves the "Corrupt Bastards Club" and secretly taped booze-soaked hotel conversations showing how leaders of the state's biggest oil-services company used their clout to manipulate Alaska politics.
The jury returned on Tuesday a guilty verdict against Kott on the charges of bribery, conspiracy and extortion.
The Kott trial, which began September 5, is the second so far resulting from a wide-ranging federal corruption probe that broke a year ago with raids by federal agents of several lawmakers' offices and homes. The probe has ensnared U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, U.S. Rep. Don Young and others.
"I think these corruption trials put the state at a crossroads," said Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who attended the trial briefly last week and has vowed to clean up the state's government.
At the trial, former VECO Corp chief executive Bill Allen described how he supplied materials and company workers to remodel Stevens's Alaska home in the ski resort town of Girdwood to help influence legislation.
At the trial, Allen and a former VECO vice president, Rick Smith, named Ted Stevens's son, former state Senate President Ben Stevens, and four other state lawmakers they say they bribed. Allen said Ben Stevens had been paid about $4,000 a month for five years to act in VECO's interests.
Allen and Smith had already pleaded guilty to bribery.
Smith described how he organized and paid for the lucrative "Pig Roast" fund-raisers for Young, which were held annually at Allen's home. Allen and Smith also told how they laundered campaign donations through executive "bonuses" and regularly funded polls on behalf of Alaska politicians.
All the implicated Alaska politicians are Republicans. Ted Stevens, Ben Stevens and Young have been charged with no crimes and have denied any wrongdoing.
Major Alaska oil producers -- ConocoPhillips, BP Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp -- have also denied any participation in the admitted crimes of Allen and Smith.
However, one tape-recorded phone call played at the trial was a conversation between Allen and ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc President Jim Bowles about how Kott and Ben Stevens would block a version of the oil tax that the oil producers disliked.
Some political observers believe VECO executives were doing the dirty work of Alaska's oil industry.
"I'm one who has suspected for 20 years or more that this was modus operandi for VECO. They were doing it on behalf of the oil-producing companies' interests," said former state lawmaker Vic Fischer.
Allen and Smith have left VECO. They admitted to making more than $400,000 in illegal payments to Alaska politicians, and each expects to spend nine to 11 years in jail.
VECO has been sold to Denver, Colorado-based CH2M Hill, an engineering and construction firm, and the VECO name was dropped at the insistence of employees.
VECO's heavy-handed political dealings are a thing of the past, said Floyd Damron, vice president of CH2M Hill.
"I've told employees, if a manager ever says anything to you about your level of political commitment, you come to me and that manager will be disciplined," he said.