FBI releases files on ex-Senator Stevens, little on corruption case

February 11, 2011

The FBI released some of its expansive files on former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens who died last year in a plane crash, offering tidbits about threats against him, accusations of corruption and some correspondence he had with the FBI.

FINANCIAL-BAILOUT/There was very little in the thousands of pages about the federal corruption investigation into Stevens beyond press clippings and court filings previously made public. The senator was initially convicted by a jury in October 2008 but the case was later dropped after a federal judge found that federal prosecutors withheld critical evidence from Stevens’ defense team.

Still, there were a few interesting tidbits, including details of contacts with foreign officials, several threats against him and also his work dating back to the 1950s when was a federal prosecutor in Alaska.

One FBI note talks about allegations that an attorney made a contribution to the Alaska Republican Party but it was allegedly illegally directed to Stevens’ re-election campaign and later the attorney received an appointment to be a federal judge with the senator’s support.

Another memo talked about an allegation that the former owner of the Fairbanks Daily News Miner who died and gave Stevens a $400,000 yacht in his will in exchange for his past help winning federal funds for projects in the city. The files do not offer details of investigations into the allegations. Stevens was never charged in those incidents.

One interesting document in Stevens’ FBI file included correspondence about the senator’s contacts with a diplomat from the Chinese Embassy in 1982, Ji Chaozhu, and the FBI’s request for advance notice of meetings in the future.  (page 334 in this file)

“As you know, your letter is very helpful to us in fulfilling our counterintelligence responsibilities,” then FBI Director William Webster said in a letter to Stevens. “Edward J. O’Malley, Assistant Director of our Intelligence Division, has suggested to me that if you have an opportunity to do so, similar notification of future meetings you may have with officials of the People’s Republic of China would be of interest.”

– Photo credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas (Stevens in the U.S. Capitol in September 2008)

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As ghostwriter of Ji Chaozhu’s autobiography, “The Man on Mao’s Right,” I was fascinated to find that the FBI had to ask Sen. Stevens to keep the Bureau in the loop on Mr. Ji’s contacts with the Senator. I always thought the relationship, which Ji described as quite sincere and useful to both sides, was a classic case of odd bedfellows: the conservative and the communist breaking bread instead of heads. Ji was a product of America as well as China, having spent most of his youth until Harvard here, then returning to China out of a sense of duty. I hope more details of the US interest in this relationship turns up. I had always wanted to interview Sen. Stevens about it but never got the chance. — Foster Winans

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