When developer Daniel Aronoff wanted an interchange built in Florida, Rep. Don Young (R-AK) came through -- after Aronoff arranged a $40,000 fundraiser for him. But Florida wasn't the only remote state where the Alaskan congressman proved popular in 2005. A massive transportation bill was making its way through Congress, and Young, as the chairman of the transportation committee, was in a powerful position.
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In addition to Aronoff's $40,000 in Florida, Young raised tens of thousands of dollars in Wisconsin, Arkansas, and New Jersey during the spring and summer of 2005 from residents and special interests eager to curry favor with the man who would preside over a $280 billion authorization bill.
In fact, Young proved much more popular with those outside his state during that time than with Alaskans. Young raised only $37,862 from Alaskans for his campaign and political action committees in the first six months of 2005 -- that's compared to $90,000 from Floridians, $22,000 from Wisconsinites, $174,000 from Arkansans, and $30,000 from New Jerseyans.
Below is our rundown of Young's special tour of our great nation, and how the locals fared.
First and foremost, of course, is Young's infamous $10 million Coconut Road earmark, one which Young inserted (changing the language after the bill passed Congress) against the wishes of local officials.
Following the typical Young-earmark pattern, a fundraiser arranged by part-time Naples resident and real estate developer Daniel Aronoff triggered the earmark, after netting $40,000 for Young's campaign.
The project is unpopular in the area and local authorities have asked for permission to use the money for what was outlined by the original earmark before it was changed.
In late May of 2005, businessman Dennis Troha, his family, and associates gave $22,000 to Young.
He had his reasons. Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has reported that Troha was angling to have truck hauling legislation included in the transportation bill that would benefit Troha's trucking conglomerate. Troha got what he wanted (thanks also to Reps. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Jim Oberstar (D-MN)), but has since been indicted. Earlier this summer, he pleaded guilty to making illegal contributions to Democrats and Republicans alike. He's yet to be sentenced and faces a maximum of two years in prison.
Bice reports that Troha is currently cooperating with federal prosecutors as they probe the trucking deal. Young says that he's never met Troha and didn't know the rule change would benefit him.
Around the same time the US attorney's office began looking into the contributions, Young retained Akin Gump for $25,000.