Ethics Committee investigating Rep. Don Young of Alaska

 

The House of Representatives Ethics Committee is investigating Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young over allegations of wrongly taking gifts, using campaign funds for personal purposes and lying to federal officials.

The ethics committee said Tuesday that it was creating an investigative subcommittee to determine whether Young broke the law or House rules. The decision to move forward with an investigation follows an initial probe by the ethics panel in which it reviewed evidence against Young.

Young declined a request for an interview to discuss the allegations.

"We have no comment at this time," Young spokesman Michael Anderson said, adding that Young has cooperated with investigators and will continue to do so.

The allegations are that Young "or persons acting on his behalf improperly obtained, received or accepted gifts, improperly used official resources or campaign funds for personal purposes, failed to report certain gifts on his annual financial disclosure statements and made false statements to federal officials."

Corruption investigations have dogged Young for years. At one point, the Justice Department drew up a draft indictment that included the synopsis that “Donald Young, in his capacity as congressman of Alaska, accepted and expected things of value (trips, meals, golf, etc.) from lobbyists, and in exchange he would provide them with official actions (meetings, letters, legislation)." The indictment wasn’t used, and Young has not been charged.

The FBI had Young under investigation for at least four years. That inquiry concluded with a 2010 memo. "It was determined that there was not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to ultimately convict Congressman Young," the memo said.

The Justice Department appears to still have an interest in Young.

The Ethics Committee said Tuesday that it had received a referral from the Justice Department with information about Young’s expenses and travel costs. “The committee has reviewed the referral without prejudice or presumptions as to the merit of the allegations,” the panel said.

Young has been Alaska’s lone member of the House of Representatives since 1973. The 79-year-old Young already has announced plans to run in 2014 for what would be his 22nd term.

Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Patrick Meehan will lead the subcommittee investigating Young. The other members of the panel are Texas Republican Rep. William “Mac” Thornberry and Massachusetts Democratic Reps. Michael Capuano and William Keating.

The Ethics Committee wouldn’t comment on the specifics of the charges or anything else regarding the probe.

Young, if found guilty of violating congressional rules, might face sanctions that include a letter of reprimand from the Ethics Committee, a censure or reprimand by the full House and a fine. The committee also could send its findings to the Justice Department and the Federal Election Commission if it decides that Young has committed criminal violations.

The FBI’s investigation covered Young’s connections to the disgraced oil-field service contractor Bill Allen and his Veco Corp. It also dealt with the revelation that Young or someone from his office had changed the 2005 transportation bill after it passed Congress. The changed version of the bill funded start-up work sought by a Young campaign contributor who wanted an interchange built in Florida.

A former aide to Young told the investigators in 2008 that Young and his wife, Lu, had used campaign funds for personal expenses that included meals and travel.

"The Youngs don’t think they should have to pay for anything when they are in Alaska, including dinners, laundry and dry cleaning," the unnamed former aide is quoted as saying in documents that a judge ordered released last year to the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

The former aide alleged that Young’s wife, who died in 2009, usually would receive $300 checks from campaign funds at the start of each of the couple’s trips to Alaska.

The Justice Department documents said the former aide also had told investigators that campaign money paid for chartered flights to Fort Yukon, Alaska, where Young has a small house and was building a second house. The flights at one point were full of building supplies, and no campaign events took ever place in Fort Yukon, the former Young aide told the criminal investigators.

The former aide described a portrait unveiling in Washington that was associated with Young becoming the chairman of the House transportation committee.

"Arrangements were made in 2002 for the Young family to travel from Anchorage to D.C. on a FEDEX jet at a cost of $17,000 for approximately 13 people. . . .Young knew of the arrangements and that the costs were covered by the campaign," the former aide said.

It’s not clear from the heavily blacked-out documents what investigators did with the allegations of Young misusing campaign funds. Young, through his lawyer, has denied them as well as any other wrongdoing.

Email: scockerham@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @seancockerham

Read more Politics Wires stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
FILE - In this March 8, 2010 file photo, US Ambassador to Kuwait Deborah Jones is seen in Kuwait City. On Saturday, July 26, 2014,The United States shut down its embassy in Libya and evacuated its diplomats to neighboring Tunisia under U.S. military escort amid a significant deterioration in security in Tripoli as fighting intensified between rival militias, the State Department said.  On Sunday, July 20, 2014, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Deborah Jones tweeted about “heavy shelling and other exchanges” of fire in the vicinity of the embassy.

    US evacuates embassy in Libya amid clashes

    The United States shut down its embassy in Libya on Saturday and evacuated its diplomats to neighboring Tunisia under U.S. military escort amid a significant deterioration in security in Tripoli as fighting intensified between rival militias, the State Department said.

  •  
President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks about the economy at the Los Angeles Trade-Technical College in Los Angeles, Thursday, July 24, 2014, on the final day of his three-day West Coast trip. Striking a populist stand ahead of the midterm elections, Obama is demanding "economic patriotism" from American corporations that seek overseas mergers to avoid U.S. taxes. Obama and congressional Democrats are pushing to severely limit such deals, a move resisted by Republicans who argue the entire corporate tax code needs an overhaul.

    Obama: Offshore 'tax inversions' are unpatriotic

    President Barack Obama says a loophole that lets companies dodge U.S. taxes by moving their headquarters overseas is unpatriotic.

  •  
FOR RELEASE SUNDAY, JULY 27, 2014, AT 12:01 A.M. EDT - This combination of campaign provided photos and staff photos shows Congressional candidates in the 2014 Michigan primary election. Top row, from left, are Tom Whitmire, Fred Upton, Douglas Radcliffe North, and Tim Walberg. Bottom row, from left, are Mike Bishop, Tom McMillin, Ken Darga and Susan Grettenberger.

    Michigan primary is start of US House shakeup

    Michigan primary voters will begin determining what could be one of the bigger shake-ups in the state's congressional delegation in years, a revamp that could become even larger if business-supported Republican challengers can topple tea party-backed congressmen.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category