Washington, D.C. Sen. Ted Stevens was clueless about the cost and scope of a pricey makeover of his Alaska cabin that led to federal corruption charges and threatened his lengthy career, his lawyer said Thursday at the opening of his trial.
Federal prosecutors allege that Stevens - one of Congress' most powerful Republicans and a patriarch of Alaska politics for generations - lied on Senate forms about more than $250,000 in home renovations and gifts from a wealthy oil contractor and close friend, Bill Allen, who expected political favors in return.
But defense attorney Brendan Sullivan, in making the first public defense of the 84-year-old senator, shifted blame to Allen and responsibility to Stevens' wife, Catherine.
Sullivan said the senator's wife handled all the project's finances and was the driving force behind the renovations. When Stevens had a message for her, he communicated through his Senate staffers.