Criminal Pork: House requests federal investigation of I-75 earmark change

posted at 11:10 am on May 1, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

In a show of bipartisanship, the House voted to request a federal investigation into tampering of legislation authorizing an earmark for a Florida road project. The earmark’s sponsor insisted that he and his staff did nothing wrong in changing the language of the legislation after it passed Congress but before it received approval from President Bush. The change redirected funds from general road construction to a project backed by Rep. Don Young’s (R-AK) campaign contributors:

The House voted overwhelmingly yesterday to request a federal criminal investigation of changes to a $10 million earmark in 2005, after the backer of the special project, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) took to the House floor to defend his actions and warn colleagues that they were heading down “a slippery, slippery road.”

The Senate last month inserted the unprecedented request for an investigation into a larger measure that corrects errors in the massive highway and transportation law approved by Congress in 2005. The resolution asks the Justice Department to look into the circumstances surrounding the $10 million expenditure for a highway interchange in Florida backed by Young, the former chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. …

The veteran lawmaker acknowledged last month that he requested the earmark, and an aide conceded that his staff changed its language after both the House and Senate had voted on a highway funding bill that included the measure. But Young denied that he pushed the provision as a result of receiving $40,000 in campaign donations from developers who owned 4,000 acres of land next to the proposed interchange on Interstate 75 just east of Naples, Fla.

The earmark process smells bad enough when it operates within the law, but this really stinks. Young requested the initial earmark as a general-funding venture, and then waited until it passed the House and Senate to modify it into a targeted boondoggle. Now Young wants us to believe that he and his staff went to all that effort for a district that could be almost the furthest from his own at-large Alaska seat for the merits of the proposal — a proposal the local planning board rejected three times — and that the $40,000 he received from developers who would directly benefit from it was just a coincidence.

Young outfoxed himself this time. He and his partner in pork, Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), have used federal tax revenues as their own political piggy bank for years with pork-barrel procurements. However, the embarrassment of requesting $223 million for a bridge that would have benefited literally dozens of people forced Young into attempts to cover his porking tracks. Wary of the questions that would arise if he publicly sponsored a large earmark for Florida developers, he tried cheating his way around transparency.

Democrats and Republicans made the right choice in requesting a federal investigation for Young’s manipulations. The quid pro quo is so obvious, and the transgression so apparent, that anything less would declare open season on post-vote changes and corruption. Let the FBI get to the bottom of Young’s dealings, and let the result teach a lesson to would-be sell-outs in Congress.


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::sigh:: Any chance at holding republican seats just keeps getting slimmer and slimmer. And Bush gets the blame.

Sue on May 1, 2008 at 11:14 AM

The change redirected funds from general road construction to a project backed by Rep. Don Young’s (R-AK) campaign contributors(.)

So he completely changed the legislation after it was passed, then sent it to be signed by the president. Alright, who beat Young with the stupid stick?

amerpundit on May 1, 2008 at 11:14 AM

I hope Republicans galvanize behind the issue and do not submit a single earmark next year, and call for an end to all earmarks. The effect on Democrats would be devastating and do alot to restore faith in Republican/conservative leadership.

Theworldisnotenough on May 1, 2008 at 11:16 AM

I swear! Can we just get through the 08 election without another “R” with a scandal attached to it!!! By the, I know two wrongs don’t make a right, but this investigation will go forward swiftly, with bipartisan support. Why isn’t someone asking for an investigation on Harry Reids shady dealings?!!???

kcd on May 1, 2008 at 11:20 AM

Why isn’t someone asking for an investigation on Harry Reids shady dealings?!!???

kcd on May 1, 2008 at 11:20 AM

Please check his political affiliation before asking such silly questions. Just like Murtha, unless there’s a federal indictment and public pressure, he’s immune (and even then…).

amerpundit on May 1, 2008 at 11:22 AM

Remind me again why I should give the Republican party any more chances? F’n scumbag. Hang em.

ClassicCon on May 1, 2008 at 11:25 AM

This just gives McCain more traction to fight the earmark issue if he is elected. Let the chips fall where they may. Take Stevens and Murtha out too.

a capella on May 1, 2008 at 11:28 AM

I wonder what John McCain will say. I wish he would come out with a huge loud stemwinder of a speech and shame the porkers so badly they could never run for public office again.

RushBaby on May 1, 2008 at 11:28 AM

Red, blue, R, D, I, Wiccan, don’t care…..cook em.

Limerick on May 1, 2008 at 11:29 AM

Why isn’t someone asking for an investigation on Harry Reids shady dealings?!!???

kcd on May 1, 2008 at 11:20 AM

Do you think this should NOT be investigated quickly?

Both of the Senators from Alaska are an emabarrasment to the Republican Party and need to be replaced ASAP.

EJDolbow on May 1, 2008 at 11:29 AM

This project is literally in my backyard. The project calls for an interchange for Coconut Rd. at I-75 in Bonita Springs, FL. The I-75 roadway is already in process of being widened and preliminary work for this interchange is underway as well. Going west on Coconut Road, there is construction happening on a Sweet Bay supermarket and Kohl’s department store. Recently opened is a new super-size mall called Coconut Point featuring Macy’s . Then, if you continue on Coconut Road toward the water, it ends in a massive Hyatt Regency Coconut Resort. The mall and resort were completed in just the past couple years. I would check the campaign donations from these businesses to the Alaska congressmen. I’m sure there were some special payoffs by them to help push the legislation forward. How’s that for transparency!

Shawn92101 on May 1, 2008 at 11:30 AM

Both of the Senators from Alaska are an emabarrasment to the Republican Party and need to be replaced ASAP.

EJDolbow on May 1, 2008 at 11:29 AM

Correction. Both Rep Young and Senator Stevens from Alaska….

EJDolbow on May 1, 2008 at 11:31 AM

The very SMARTEST thing Republicans could do at this point is to DEMAND a full investigation of ALL Earmarks for the taint of corruption by the Feds.

This way they can deflect some of the damage from these Alaskan boobs (seriously, did the cold damage their brains?) and possibly pull a takedown on some of the Dems as well. And the Dems would be hard-pressed to oppose it without looking like they are coddling corruption. It’s an IDEAL opportunity!

Which means the Republimorons we’re stuck with will probably let it pass them by.

*sigh* :(

wearyman on May 1, 2008 at 11:33 AM

When the mainstream press rewards the most shameless Democrat politicians–Reid, Pelosi, Schumer, Leahy, etc.–for their underhanded schemes, it confuses some Republicans into believing that they’re untouchable as well. But Republicans need to remember that their relationship with the mainstream press is like tiptoeing naked through an ant farm while covered in honey. Don’t trip.

RBMN on May 1, 2008 at 11:34 AM

The corruption associated with political power is party independent.

docdave on May 1, 2008 at 11:38 AM

The best thing to do is to “hang him high”, get rid of those losers.
What upsets me is that every party knows those guys are around, they are inept at policing themselves.

right2bright on May 1, 2008 at 11:39 AM

And the RNC again begging me for $7 today. So sad. I only give directly candidates I support.

kirkill on May 1, 2008 at 11:45 AM

Are there any pork-free Republicans in Alaska who could take out Young in a primary? Couldn’t Governor Palin recruit somebody she trusts?

Steve Z on May 1, 2008 at 11:45 AM

We’re gettin’ screwed left and right.

captivated_dem on May 1, 2008 at 11:46 AM

Don Young: “Ok this is no problem, all we need to do is put all the records of this deal in my office on the hill and the FBI can’t touch them”

Staffer: “Thank you SCOTUS!”

RobD on May 1, 2008 at 11:52 AM

I don’t care if he’s a Republican. Prosecute.

Cicero43 on May 1, 2008 at 11:53 AM

It’s way past time for a third party hopefully more conservative than the current lefty thieves and perverts that inhabit both parties and the “straight talk back stabbing express” isn’t it.

dhunter on May 1, 2008 at 11:59 AM

Yawn. Another corrupt Republican. Could I care less?

War profiteering Democrat, Cardinal Feinstein is another story. Nah, nothing to see here.

http://thehill.com/david-keene/feinsteins-cardinal-shenanigans-2007-04-30.html

Angry Dumbo on May 1, 2008 at 12:00 PM

Well being that he is my Congressman. I can’t say much other then I am tired of him as are most of Alaskans.

I will say he HAS tried to get ANWR up and running, but his crappy attitude towards people may be the reason why we haven’t been able to open it. I hope Lisa Murkowski gets the Senate on it, she has actually been doing a good job. Unlike her father.. but I digress.

With that said, Sean Parnell, who is the LT Gov here is running for Congress. Oh I wish I could find the video on Young and his nasty remark to Sean concerning his throwing in the hat. Young needs to get a grip on Reality… and I think Sean will just do that!

upinak on May 1, 2008 at 12:13 PM

upinak on May 1, 2008 at 12:13 PM

Please keep us informed. Let us know whose campaign we can be proud to support.

RushBaby on May 1, 2008 at 12:15 PM

Please keep us informed. Let us know whose campaign we can be proud to support.

RushBaby on May 1, 2008 at 12:15 PM

Rush, Alaska is small. Being the largest State, doesn’t mean you don’t have the small community attmosphere. You can meet all kinds of people.

I have personally worked with Sean Parnell. He is a fair and decent man. He doesn’t put up with BS or backstabbing, gossiping or anything of that matter. Sean has done some really good things and knows how Government works.

I have met Young and I don’t have a good opinion on him. He is a mean man who thinks the world revolves around him. If you aren’t up in the political or have a multi million dollar corporation, he thinks you are more or less, a liberal or a lost cause. Which makes me giggle because I am conservative as it gets for Alaska.

Sean at least listens to the people and isn’t afraid to shake someones hand.

Info on Sean

http://www.conservapedia.com/Sean_Parnell

upinak on May 1, 2008 at 12:26 PM

Don’t worry, though, Rep. Tom Cole says that Young is an honorable man, worthy of the NRCC’s full support.

Obamariffic Translation: these articles you’re seeing are just “snippets” of the man’s life that have been “taken out of context”.

its vintage duh on May 1, 2008 at 12:55 PM

Throw every one like Young into the Potomac with cement overshoes.

I am glad they are investigating but of course it was a Republican they picked, not Harry Reid, Feinstein or Pelosi and while the trial of William Jefferson is in slo-mo.

The stink from the swamp is becoming audible, and for Congress to wonder why its performance rating is so abysmal just another straw in the wind that the political class is mostly without clue when it comes to doing the right things by the citizens outside their cliques.

Harry Schell on May 1, 2008 at 12:59 PM

Pork is impartial to party affiliation. Sad for us.

Entelechy on May 1, 2008 at 1:22 PM

I begin with the proposition, ALL earmarks are a corruption of the process.

Therefore, bitching about a diversion of earmarked funds, from one project to another, is no more than a distraction from the real issue.

show me I’m wrong

franksalterego on May 1, 2008 at 1:48 PM

I begin with the proposition, ALL earmarks are a corruption of the process.

Therefore, griping, and moaning about diverting funds from one project to another is nothing more than a diversion from the real issue.

franksalterego on May 1, 2008 at 1:52 PM

I don’t understand how the version of a bill signed by the president can be different from the version that was passed by the two houses of congress. That seems really invalid in a very deep and disturbing way.

Al in St. Lou on May 1, 2008 at 3:09 PM

http://www.conservapedia.com/Sean_Parnell

upinak on May 1, 2008 at 12:26 PM

Thanks.

RushBaby on May 1, 2008 at 3:12 PM

The corruption in our government is absolutely appalling. How can the U.S. point out the shamful acts of Mugabe or Chavez, et al, when we have this kind of crap going on.

Can one be proud of their country while being mortally ashamed of its government?

Fatal on May 1, 2008 at 4:52 PM

With Republicans like that, who needs Democrats. Disgusting.

Spolitics on May 1, 2008 at 5:16 PM

I don’t understand how the version of a bill signed by the president can be different from the version that was passed by the two houses of congress. That seems really invalid in a very deep and disturbing way.

What’s disturbing to me is wondering how many times something like this has slipped through, especially some of those huge spending bills that nobody actually reads, so nobody would actually know…

taznar on May 1, 2008 at 8:01 PM

Throw them all out.

Johan Klaus on May 1, 2008 at 11:33 PM

I hope Young goes down fighting. Fighting dirty. Dirty enough to name every thieving scumbag he’s ever done a crooked deal with. If he really tried he could probably take half the House with him when he goes. Nothing would have a more salutory effect on the quality of our government.

Bugler on May 2, 2008 at 12:26 AM