Group sues for records in closed Young investigations

FBI PROBES: Justice office says files are exempt from FOIA.

April 20, 2011 

With its Freedom of Information Act requests rebuffed, a Washington, D.C., watchdog group filed suit against the Justice Department on Wednesday, seeking the files of at least two FBI corruption investigations of Alaska Rep. Don Young.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said the Justice Department is improperly withholding the files, now that the investigations are closed and Young won't be prosecuted.

The Justice Department says its criminal investigation files are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, because subjects who are not charged are protected by privacy laws.

Young, a Republican, was the subject of a long-standing FBI investigation into his relationships with the defunct oil-field service company Veco and two of its top executives, Bill Allen and Rick Smith, both convicted of bribery. The FBI also looked into his notorious Coconut Road interchange earmark, sought by a Florida developer who provided Young with campaign contributions.

In August 2010, Young announced that the Justice Department informed his attorneys that he would not be charged and that the investigations were over. Young has not agreed to any interviews on the investigations, which could be reopened if new evidence surfaced.

Earlier this year, CREW invoked the Freedom of Information Act to seek the files on Young and five other members of Congress who had been investigated but not charged by the Justice Department: Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif.; former Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas; former Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va.; former Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa.; and Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev. Last month it sued to get the DeLay records, but that case has barely moved in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., the same place where the Young suit was filed.


Reach Richard Mauer at rmauer@adn.com or 257-4345.

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