Ex-aide: Alaska Congressman Don Young used campaign funds for personal expenses

WASHINGTON — A former aide to Alaska Congressman Don Young told criminal investigators in 2008 that Young and his wife, Lu, used campaign funds for personal expenses including meals and travel between Alaska and Washington D.C.

The statement from the unnamed former aide was included in hundreds of pages of documents released Friday in response to a judge’s order in a freedom of information lawsuit brought by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. CREW was seeking information related to the federal investigation of Young, many details of which have never been made public.

The documents include an Aug. 30, 2010 memo from the FBI saying the case was being closed.

“After review by the Chief of the Public Integrity Section, Department of Justice, it was determined that there was ultimately not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to ultimately convict Congressman Young,” the FBI memo said.

The documents released Friday also included what appears to be a draft indictment, never used, that includes the synopsis that “Donald Young, in his capacity as Congressman of Alaska, accepted and excepted things of value (trips, meals, golf etc.) from lobbyists, and in exchange, he would provide them with official actions (meetings, letters, legislation.)”

CREW suggested Friday the documents indicate Young is still under investigation. That assertion is based on the Department of Justice blacking out information the group requested. “The FBI withheld some documents claiming they relate to an ongoing law enforcement investigation. This suggests Rep. Young is the subject of a current criminal inquiry, which has not been reported previously,” the group said.

Young’s lawyer, John Dowd, in an interview on Friday, said that is nonsense. He said there’s no current investigation, that the FBI had no case at the time and the inquiry is closed.

“I just think it’s outrageous to keep trying to hurt a man who cooperated with all of the (investigative) processes of the executive and legislative branch and they found nothing” Dowd said.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment, saying the department does not confirm or deny investigations.

It’s not clear from the documents what investigators did with the allegations about using campaign funds for personal expenses made by the unnamed former campaign aide.

The assertains are contained in a heavily redacted FBI report dated April 7, 2008. The report says the campaign aide was interviewed in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Anchorage.

“The Youngs don’t think they should have to pay for anything when they are in Alaska including dinners, laundry and dry cleaning,” the former aide is quoted as saying.

The former aide described a portrait unveiling in Washington, D.C. associated with Young becoming chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“Arrangements were made in 2002 for the Young family to travel from Anchorage to D.C. on a FEDEX jet at a cost of $17,000 for approximately thirteen people ... Young knew of the arrangements and that the costs were covered by the campaign,” the former aide said.

The interview notes said the former aide told investigators that the campaign paid for chartered flights to Fort Yukon, where Young has a small house and was building a second house. The flights at one point were full of building supplies and no campaign events took ever place in Fort Yukon, the former Young aide told the investigators.

The former aide also said that Young scheduled hunting trips to coincide with campaign-paid fundraising trips, and that his wife would usually receive $300 checks from campaign funds at the start of each trip to Alaska. Young’s wife, Lu, died in 2009. Young claimed reimbusements for dinners that were not campaign-related, the aide was quoted as saying.

Young’s lawyer, John Dowd, said the charges were false, that Young cooperated with the investigation, and it is “time to move on.”

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