Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in the history of the U.S. Senate, filed for re-election Thursday despite a federal investigation into his ties to an oil field services contractor.
Federal authorities are reviewing the remodeling of the 84-year-old's official residence in a resort near Anchorage; the contractor helped do the work, but Stevens hasn't been charged and has said he paid all bills presented to him.
Democrats hope the long-running investigation can weaken Stevens, the most powerful elected official Alaska has produced.
Stevens was appointed to the Senate in 1968, won a special election two years later and has been re-elected six times. Through positions on Senate committees controlling the country's purse strings, Stevens has delivered billions of dollars to Alaska, a state rich in land but poor in infrastructure. Grateful constituents named the largest airport in the state after him.
His legacy was tarnished last year when the FBI and the IRS raided his home in Girdwood, a ski resort community on Anchorage's southern edge.
Bill Allen, the former head of VECO Corp., an oil field service company, who has pleaded guilty to bribing Alaska state legislators, testified in trials that he oversaw extensive renovations at the home and sent VECO employees to work on it.
Beyond denying wrongdoing, Stevens has maintained a policy of not discussing pending investigations. He has said he did not want to be perceived as trying to influence the investigation.
Democrats believe the investigation could make Stevens vulnerable in this year's election. Top party officials are encouraging Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich to challenge Stevens, but Begich has not announced a decision.