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  • Wednesday, February 20, 2008

    Republican Corruption in Alaska: Don Young, Corrupt Every Which Way He Can

    I recently I wrote a piece on the very, very nasty corruption among Republicans in Alaska. Specifically, I wrote about a scandal involving an oil services company, VECO, that involves bribery and buying of favors involving four Alaskan Republican State Legislators, one US Senator from Alaska (Ted Stevens) and the lone House Representative from Alaska (Don Young). The single Democrat, a state legislator, initially investigated was never subsequently accused of wrongdoing. In other words, the VECO scandal is exclusively a Republican scandal.

    But when I wrote that piece, I hadn't realized I had only scratched the surface. Turns out, one recipient of VECO's alleged bribes, Rep. Don Young, may well be the poster boy for just about every kind of Republican corruption this nation has been seeing.

    Here is a rundown of Don Young's sleaze from The Muckraker:

    It's hard to keep track of all of Rep. Don Young's (R-AK) scandals. But we're here to help. Here's a snapshot of what we know about all the ways Young has managed to get into trouble.

    Coconut Road
    McClatchy reported last week that investigators have begun scrutinizing Young's now famous $10 million earmark for a Florida interchange. Whether the earmark was a quid pro quo for a big time contributor is only half the story. Young also appears to have changed the bill's language after it passed Congress in order to make sure that the money went where (or to who) he wished.

    Dennis Troha
    As we noted in our post on Young's remarkable fundraising record in the run-up to the 2005 transportation bill, Wisconsin businessman Dennis Troha is reportedly cooperating with investigators regarding his contributions to Young and other lawmakers. Troha allegedly gave his support in exchange for a measure that was inserted into the bill.

    Veco
    The FBI is also scrutinizing Young's dealings with Alaska oil services company Veco Corp. At issue is whether he accepted bribes in exchange for political favors over the course of his long friendship with former Veco CEO Bill Allen. In January, Young tried to make amends by returning $38,000 to Allen for the decade-worth of pig roast fundraisers the executive held in Young's honor each year in Anchorage. From 1996 to 2006, when Allen played host to the pork gala, Veco and its employees gave Young at least $157,000. Young was chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for six of those years.

    It's unclear what Young might have arranged for Veco in exchange. But Veco has certainly done well as a federal contractor. The company's federal sector website touts having "successfully completed projects totaling over $25 billion," since 1992. Investigators are reportedly investigating Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) role in helping Veco get a $170 million contract. But which contracts might Young's help have proven instrumental? We'll keep you posted.

    Jack Abramoff
    Young also touches another investigation. The sole Alaska congressman kept close ties with Jack Abramoff and was known to hold fundraisers in Abrmoff's MCI skybox. Last year, Paul reported on a 1999 Abramoff-organized Congressional junket Young led to the Marshall Islands. At the time, Young was the chair of the House Resources Committee. The delegation, which included Reps. John Doolittle (R-CA), Ken Calvert (R-CA) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), visited the Kwajalein Atoll missile test site and attended a meeting of the parliament, during which a resolution was introduced to rename the test site after Ronald Reagan. Thanks to Paul's intrepid reporting, we hear Young allegedly addressed the assembly in Bermuda shorts. Young vehemently denies wearing the short pants which are still part of the Royal Navy uniform.

    Mark Zachares, a native Alaskan and former senior aide on the House Transportation Committee -- during Young's tenure as chair -- pleaded guilty in July to hawking political favors in exchange for perks (like $60,000 in cash and a trip to Scotland) and a future job from Abramoff. Though Zachares carried out Abramoff's work under Young's noise, no concrete evidence has surfaced showing that Young was directly involved. But, Young's effort seven years ago to stop sweatshop reform in the Mariana Islands raises some suspicion. Zachares was a Mariana Islands official at the time and Abramoff was the islands' lobbyist and paid $11 million to make sure Congress didn't interfere with wages or immigration -- the two areas under Zachares' domain. Thanks to Young, the reforms were halted.

    And Zachares wasn't the only aide of Young's to have a relationship with Abramoff. Young's staffer Duane Gibson left to go work for Abramoff.


    That's four separate scandals Don Young is mired in. That is pretty damned disgusting if you ask me. But there might even be more. I find a site called DropDon.com that has a pretty comprehensive coverage of Don Young's corruption. Here is their summary with links to more:

    WEB OF CORRUPTION
    House Transportation Committee

    Don Young used his power as Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to steer vast sums of public money to his family and campaign donors.

    Click here to Read more »

    Young’s Ties to [Convicted Felon] Abramoff

    Mark Zachares’ corruption is the latest to surface in a long line of links between Young and Abramoff.

    Click here to Read more »

    Young’s Aide Zachares Gave [Convicted Felon]Abramoff Inside Information

    For four years, Zachares engaged in a conspiracy to enrich the infamous Abramoff, a Republican Party insider whose corrupt acts entangled several members of Congress and other government officials.

    Click here to Read more »

    The [Convicted Felon] Abramoff Skybox

    On February 2, 2000, Young called Abramoff’s assistant Jennifer Calvert to ask for use of Abramoff’s MCI skybox for two upcoming fundraisers.

    Click here to Read more »

    Mariana Islands

    Over the years Young repeatedly acted to aid the government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), a small group of Pacific Ocean islands under U.S. jurisdiction. Abramoff was paid $11 million to lobby for CNMI from 1994 to 2001.

    Click here to Read more »

    Marshall Islands

    On January 4, 1999, Abramoff was hired to represent the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). Abramoff’s main mission was to stop legislation pending in Congress, which would have raised costs of clothing manufacture by the Tan family and other clothing manufacture interests there.

    Click here to Read more »

    Post Office Project

    In September 2002, Young sought to intervene with the General Services Administration on behalf of Abramoff, who at that time was seeking preferential treatment for a group of his Tribal clients who were bidding on a proposal to develop the Old Post Office Complex site in Washington, DC.

    Click here to Read more »

    Young’s Ties to VECO

    VECO CEO Bill Allen and VP Richard Smith pleaded guilty in May, 2007 to bribing Alaska lawmakers.

    Click here to Read more »

    Don Young’s Way

    The proposed bridge across Knik Arm near Anchorage, otherwise known as Don Young’s Way, became a subject of national ridicule and driver of earmark reform in Congress. Young sponsored an earmark of more than $230 million dollars in the 2005 federal highway transportation bill for the bridge that is to be named after himself.

    Click here to Read more »

    AK or Arkansas?

    Arkansas, with a population of about 2.8 million, reaped a total of about $2.38 billion in the five-year national transportation bill that Young helped pass in 2005 when he was chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

    Click here to Read more »

    Coconut Road in Florida

    The New York Times reported Young’s connection to a $10 million appropriation he earmarked for Coconut Road in Florida.

    Click here to Read more »

    Trucking legislation

    Another example of Don Young taking official action that benefited some of his campaign donors is the passage of legislation that revised truck-hauling rules.The Anchorage Daily News reported that the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office opened an investigationinto a deal involving payments to Rep. Young and other Congressmen by indicted Wisconsin businessman Dennis Troha.

    Click here to Read more »

    Sources of campaign funds

    Of Young’s five largest sources of funds in the most recent campaign cycle, two - Veco Corp. and Jht Holdings - are tainted by corruption scandals. Veco is the oil field service company whose executives Bill Allen and Richard Smith pled guilty to bribing Alaska legislators. Since 1989 Young has received more than $200,000 from VECO employees, his largest source of campaign funds.

    Click here to Read more »

    Ties to GOP leaders

    Young voted with President Bush 86% of the time and the Republican Party line 94% of the time.

    Click here to Read more »

    Ties with [Indicted] Tom Delay

    Young has taken money from Tom DeLay’s ARMPAC, voted to weaken House ethics rules when DeLay proposed doing so, voted to allow the GOP House Leader to continue to serve after an indictment, and voted with Tom DeLay 88% of the time.

    Click here to Read more »


    Not a pretty picture. In 2006 in state after state, Abramoff tied, corrupt Republicans were indicted, convicted and/or voted out of office by angry voters. If Alaska follows the trend of cleaning house that so many other states did, Don Young's days are seriously numbered.

    You can help clean up Alaska by donating through my Alaska Act Blue Site.

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