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Stevens Senate Aide Handled Personal Bills

This seems to have little to do with the specific charges against Ted Stevens, but Catherine Stevens' testimony has revealed that the senator used a well paid Senate aide to pay personal credit cards and home utility bills and run other personal errands for the senator and his wife.

Prosecutors in the corruption trial of Stevens have gone on the attack as the senator's wife heads into her second hour of testimony, accusing the couple of using Senate staff for all sorts of things, like cutting the grass in the D.C. home and paying Nieman Marcus bills for Mrs. Stevens -- all out of the Stevens family account.

It's not unusual for senators to use staff as gophers, including running errands and driving them around town, but the testimony seems designed to show the jury that Stevens and his wife lived a privileged life in which Senate staff were put to use for personal needs.

The aide in question is Barbara Flanders, an aide who made $126,000 as part of Sen. Stevens' staff in 2007, according to the legislative database

"Didn't your husband's staff pay your credit card bills?" lead prosecutor Brenda Morris asked Catherine Stevens. "Did Barbara Flanders pay your Saks Fifth Avenue bills?"

"She could have," Catherine Stevens said. "She had authority to sign on our accounts."

Stevens' explanation is that she and her husband have a joint Senate credit union account for their personal checking, and Flanders was put in charge of personal bills, including paying utilities, insurance and other bills for the chalet in Girdwood, Alaska, that is the subject of this investigation.

Stevens has said she paid every invoice that came to her home as part of the renovations that led to the FBI investigation that has Stevens on trial in federal court.

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