October 1 2009, 10:55 AM
After Iowa political activist and insurance compensation specialist Phyllis Stevens was arrested for allegedly embezzling nearly $6 million from insurance firm Aviva USA, the politicos she funded are seemingly stunned and so far unresolved about what to do with the money she's given them. "She struck me as a passionate person who cared deeply about a number of issues," Ione Shadduck, an Iowa lawyer and member of the Progressive Coalition Board, tells the Des Moines Register. "She was a big help in getting our organization started. I am in shock." Stevens and her spouse, Marla, who were nabbed by the FBI on federal wire-fraud and money-laundering charges, gave more than $30,000 to Colorado Democrats, including thousands to Betsy Markey (pictured) and Angie Paccione, who, in different election years, took on U.S. Representative Marilyn Musgrave in the Fourth Congressional District, according to the Fort Collins Coloradoan. Markey, who succeeded last year in ousting Musgrave, "is setting that money aside until the courts make a decision," says her spokesman, Ben Marter. Phyllis and Marla Stevens married in Canada in 2003 and have been active in gay-rights causes in Iowa. One likely reason the couple backed Markey and Paccione was Musgrave's proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Congressman Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat from Lakewood, also received $8,900 from Marla Stevens between 2006 and 2008. A Perlmutter spokeswoman says the congressman will also wait to hear from the courts before spending or returning the contributions.