There is nothing unusual about a congressman from Alaska secretly allocating $10 million for a Florida interchange or helping secure $81 million for a related project.
Thatâs what Rep. Don Young (R-AK) told the Anchorage Daily News
in response to a New York Times
story about his involvement in slipping Coconut Road in Fort Myers, Florida about $81 million. The extension of the road and the creation of an interchange is a boon for real estate developers in the area, several of whom are big Republican donors. One in particular, Daniel J. Aronoff, said he helped raise $40,000 for Young days before the $10 million earmark appeared because, as an Aronoff consultant explained: âWe were looking for a lot of money.â Young was the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee at the time.
When a Times reporter approached Young near the House floor about the Coconut Road story the congressman gave the journalist an obscene gesture, apparently declining to comment. But yesterday Young sent a statement to the Anchorage Daily News saying this is all âold news:â
"Every story that comes out is the same, with different players and different projects," he said. "When you are the chairman of the largest committee in the House, and a senior member, and in charge of writing a $290-odd billion bill, it's a guarantee that you are going to be raising more money than other less senior members. ... It's also a guarantee that there will be a plethora of projects for people to look at and pick apart. This is a recycled story."
According to the local Alaska paper, Young recycles this defense. In April he gave the same explanation when asked about campaign contributions from a Wisconsin trucking executive alleged to have improperly benefited from road legislation originating in Young's committee.