Young silent about documents linking him to corruption probe

Sean Cockerham | Tribune Media Services,Erika Bolstad
Rep. Don Young wipes a tear during a remembrance for his wife, Lu Young, at the AFN Convention on Thursday. Young's daughters Joni Nelson, left, and Dawn Vallely are seated beside him. "I love her, and I always will," Young said.
MARC LESTER / Anchorage Daily News
Rep. Don Young speaks at the AFN convention on Thursday, October 22, 2009.
MARC LESTER / Anchorage Daily News

Rep. Don Young on Thursday would not talk about new court filings that for the first time directly tie him to the Alaska corruption investigation through gifts and illegal campaign contributions by Bill Allen and his oil-field service company Veco Corp.

"Don't bother me, don't bother me," Young said, with a wave of his hand, when asked by a reporter about the court filings as he entered the Alaska Federation of Natives convention.

The documents were filed late Wednesday as part of the preparations for the sentencing next week of former Veco chief Bill Allen, who is at the heart of the investigation into corruption in Alaska politics.

It included a 2007 "confession of additional criminal activity," made public for the first time in filings Wednesday, in which Allen alleged 13 years worth of gift-giving by him and fellow Veco executive Rick Smith to "United States Representative A," described as Alaska's representative in the House. Only Don Young fits that description.

Allen's confession said Veco spent between $130,000 and $195,000 on illegal corporate donations to Young by paying for his annual "pig roast" fundraiser in Anchorage from 1993 to 2006.

Another example offered in the same document signed by Allen in May 2007 was a gift of $1,000 golf clubs which prosecutors said Smith purchased with Allen's credit card for Young.

Young reported no gifts on his disclosure forms from 1995 until last year, when he disclosed $77,000 in donations that he received for his legal defense fund.

It was lack of disclosure on those same forms that led the Justice Department to indict then-Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens on corruption charges also related to Veco. A jury convicted Stevens, but those charges were withdrawn earlier this year by the Justice Department after defense attorneys questioned the way prosecutors and the FBI handled witnesses and evidence.

Young was at the AFN convention in Anchorage Thursday to speak and attend a ceremony honoring his wife of more than 46 years, who died in August. Lu Young, a Gwich'in Athabascan from Fort Yukon, was lovingly recalled by Native leaders and her family as a mother, friend and advocate for her people.

The congressman appeared deeply touched throughout much of the morning, weeping during the speeches honoring his wife.

Young was warmly received at the convention, with no mention of the legal issues that have followed him for over two years without charges being filed.

Prosecutors wrote in a separate sentencing document filed Wednesday in Allen's case that the former Veco chief "curried favor with various state and federal legislators and awarded them with cash and other items of value so they would be favorably disposed toward voting for legislation that was of interest to Veco and the oil industry." Young's lawyer in Washington D.C., John Dowd, did not return a phone call or an e-mail regarding the latest filings.

There have been some media accounts tying Young to Allen and Veco, but the documents filed Wednesday were the first time that information came directly from government documents.

Harry Crawford, an Anchorage Democratic state representative running against Young for Congress in next year's election, questioned why charges have not been filed.

"I guess you get the kind of justice you can afford," Crawford said. "He's been taking campaign contributions and paying for the best legal help that you can find."

Since early 2007, Young has spent more than $1.2 million from his campaign account and legal expense fund on lawyer bills connected to federal investigations of his fundraising and other matters.

Former Anchorage state Rep. Andrew Halcro, who plans to run against Young in next summer's Republican primary, said he's not running because of legal issues but that the latest filings "just kind of add more context to the fact that maybe it is time for a change."

Young has said he did not do anything wrong. But he has consistently refused to discuss details of what's going on, saying that's on the advice of his lawyers.

Young won re-election last year despite the legal bills, barely winning the Republican primary and going on to beat Democrat Ethan Berkowitz by 16,379 votes.

An FBI spokesman in Anchorage, Eric Gonzalez, would not comment on Young, citing the agency's policy of refusing to talk about ongoing investigations.

Sean Cockerham reported from Anchorage and Erika Bolstad from Washington, D.C. Contact them: and

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