Don Young Gives Self Fictitious “Hero of the Taxpayer” Award from Watchdog Group

Rep. Don Young (R-AK) has been called many things in his day, but we’re pretty sure a “Hero of the Taxpayer” isn’t one of them.

But according to a new radio campaign ad being run by Young, he was given just such a title in an award given to him by the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense.

This seemed a little odd to us, as we’re pretty familiar with Taxpayers for Common Sense, and pretty sure Don Young is probably the last person to receive such a dubious honor.

And sure enough according to the group named in the ad, Young’s claim is patently false.

“I wish people would let us know when we give them awards,” Steve Ellis, Vice President for Taxpayers for Common Sense told TPMmuckraker. “We don’t even have a ‘Hero of the Taxpayer’ award to start out. But we did scrub through our records and we found out that we had given him an award– the ‘Golden Fleece’ award in 2003 for the Bridge to Nowhere.”

According to Ellis, “The Golden Fleece Award” is given for “extreme cases of wasteful government spending.”

But as it turns out, Young’s claim isn’t completely without merit. He was in fact named a “Hero of the Taxpayer,” a few weeks ago, but not by Taxpayer for Commonsense. Americans for Tax Reform, an interest group founded by Republican lobbyist Grover Norquist, honored Young with that distinction in late June.

We’ve captured the radio audio for the ad. Note that Don Young “approves this message.”

The relevant portion starts at about 33 seconds. The transcript is here:

Now that Parnell is in the “Club for No Growth” they’re running false ads accusing Don Young of pushing higher taxes on Alaskans when the opposite is true. Don Young was even presented the ‘Hero of the Taxpayer Award’ by Taxpayers for Common Sense. Sean Parnell ought to be ashamed, Don Young ought to be re-elected.

We’ll call the Young camp as soon as it’s morning in Alaska.

Late update: The Young campaign released a statement that apologized for the mix-up in the attribution of the award and said they would duly revise it.

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