Today’s Must Read

Rep. Don Young (R-AK) has spent more than one million dollars on criminal defense lawyers. And for some reason, reporters won’t stop asking him questions about it.

Are the feds investigating whether Young took bribes from the corrupt executives at Veco (as The Wall Street Journal has reported)? What about his ties to Jack Abramoff? Anything else?

This February, he practically leaped out of his seat at a journo who had the temerity to press for details. “It’s not my prerogative to answer to people who have nothing to do with it. That’s you,” he said and claimed that his constituents weren’t bothered with his support of the legal community — only nosy muckrakers. When the reporter protested that he was a constituent, Young asked if the reporter had voted for him. “No, sir,” the reporter replied, and that was that.

Now that Young has officially crossed the million dollar mark, reporters are badgering him again. And yesterday Young struck a different tone:

Young… said he wished he could speak his mind. He can’t, he said in a statement released Tuesday, because “both the Department of Justice and my lawyers have asked that I not comment further on the investigation. I MUST honor this request,” using capital letters for emphasis.

“Many people have been concerned about my legal fees and I do not take their concerns lightly… I have learned that the legal process is an expensive process, but I have nothing to hide. When it comes to my family and my character, the truth is priceless. That is exactly why I hired good legal counsel, and I have worked fully with the Department of Justice by answering their questions and providing them with anything they have requested.”

Despite all the unjust scrutiny, Young has tried to make things right. Last year, his campaign committee tried to reimburse Bill Allen, formerly the CEO of Veco and now a full-time cooperator, for approximately $38,000 that Allen spent putting on Young’s big annual pig roast fundraiser every year (see to the right).

Young’s chief of staff explained to The Anchorage Daily News that the campaign was simply doing its due diligence and discovered the problem. Their caution might have also had something to do with the fact that a number of state lawmakers had had their offices raided by the FBI as part of the Veco investigation.

In any case, Allen was already cooperating with the feds by the time that Young tried to make amends. And Allen, not surprisingly, did not accept the cash. In its filing with the FEC this week, the campaign does not offer an explanation, only writing “Two checks paid to Bill Allen in the total amount of $37,626.00 in January 2007 for fundraiser costs were not cashed by Mr. Allen. These funds were later disgorged to the US Treasury in January 2008.”

You know it’s got to hurt Young, such an accomplished earmarker, to be giving perfectly good money up to the government.