Documents released by the FBI show a source told investigators an Alaska congressman and his late wife spent campaign money on hunting trips and flights and wrote checks to themselves over years of allegedly profligate spending on his contributors’ dime.
The allegations were not enough to convince the FBI that they could convict Rep. Don Young and the matter was dropped in 2010.
The documents were released Friday, more than three months after a federal judge rejected the Justice Department’s refusal to turn over records of its criminal investigation.
The source, whose identify was redacted in the documents, appeared to have intimate knowledge of Young’s D.C. office and was familiar with Young and his wife’s conduct during fundraising trips.
Congress asked the Justice Department in 2008 to investigate Young’s role in securing a $10 million earmark to widen a Florida highway.
The project would have benefited a developer who helped raise money for Young. The congressman was re-elected to a 20th term in 2010.
Young’s press secretary, Luke Miller, said Saturday that the matter should be considered closed.
“First and foremost, Congressman Young is not under investigation and any assertion that he is, is utterly false,” Miller said. “The reckless accusations made yesterday are part of a larger effort to smear the Congressman.
“Congressman Young has cooperated with the investigative process every step of the way and nothing was found. Simply put — it’s time to move on.”
The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington submitted its Freedom of Information Act request a year ago seeking all records related to the Young investigation that are not covered by grand jury secrecy, including the Department of Justice’s decision not to file charges.
The department’s agencies declined to search for any requested documents, and instead flatly denied the request on grounds that any release of documents would violate the Privacy Act. But a federal judge said Young has “minimal” private interest considering that the investigation was not secret and that he publicly announced that the department was not going to charge him.
Many of the allegations made by the source centered on spending for personal expenses.
“There were many instances when hunting trips coincided with campaign trips for Young,” the source told investigators.
The campaign barely broke even on some of these trips, including one to Savannah Dhu in upstate New York in which the campaign hoped to raise $24,000 but only raised $4,000. Even when fundraisers weren’t held, the hunting trips would go forward.
Though the document is about Young, his late wife, Lu, draws at least as much of the focus. Her spending, demands on Young’s staff and at-times stormy relationship with her husband take up pages of the documents
“Don and Lu Young have a loving relationship, but frequently have volatile arguments,” said the source.
Lu Young died in 2009. She was a constant presence in Young’s D.C. office, and the state of Alaska lowered its flags to half-staff after her death.
Many of the source’s contentions focused on Lu Young’s spending. A $17,000 flight from Anchorage to D.C. on a FedEx jet, charter flights to their second home laden with building supplies and fishing licenses for guests on a trip were all born by campaign expenses, the source said. Angry with Alaska Airlines, she allegedly asked the airline “if they still wanted their gate at (Washington, D.C.’s) National Airport.”
“There was no doubt,” investigators wrote, “that the expenses Lu Young was submitting were inappropriate, and it was a common topic of discussion in the office.”