House Ethics Committee Admonishes Rep. Don Young

The Alaska Republican was formally reprimanded Friday for accepting gifts and trips.

National Journal
Billy House
June 20, 2014, 9:10 a.m.

Rep. Don Young has been is­sued a form­al let­ter of re­prov­al — a pub­lic re­buke — from the House Eth­ics Com­mit­tee for mis­con­duct tied to his ac­cept­ance of im­per­miss­ible gifts and trips and his mis­use of cam­paign funds, the pan­el an­nounced Fri­day.

The ac­tion rep­res­ents the least severe of a range of pun­ish­ments that the com­mit­tee could have taken against Young — in­clud­ing a form­al rep­rim­and or cen­sure from the full House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives, or even ex­pul­sion from the House.

“I ac­cept the House Com­mit­tee on Eth­ics’ re­port and re­gret the over­sights it has iden­ti­fied,” Young said in a state­ment Fri­day. “There were a num­ber of in­stances where I failed to ex­er­cise due care in com­ply­ing with the House’s Code of Con­duct and for that I apo­lo­gize.  As the Com­mit­tee in­dic­ates in its re­port, I nev­er ‘made any know­ingly false state­ments to gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials’ nor did I act ‘cor­ruptly or in bad faith.”

The com­mit­tee’s found that between 2001 and 2013, Young im­prop­erly used cam­paign funds and ac­cep­ted donor gifts tied to 15 hunt­ing trips and oth­er activ­it­ies — a total value of about $59,063.

Young was also found to not have re­por­ted cer­tain gifts on his an­nu­al fin­an­cial-dis­clos­ure state­ments. Young, 81, is now the longest-serving Re­pub­lic­an in the House (he first came to the cham­ber in 1973).

An ac­com­pa­ny­ing re­port on the mat­ter re­leased Fri­day by the com­mit­tee says Young has already ex­pressed re­gret and ac­cep­ted re­spons­ib­il­ity.

In ad­di­tion, the re­port says Young has re­paid the value of im­per­miss­ible gifts — $30,936 to his main cam­paign com­mit­tee, and $28,127 to 10 private in­di­vidu­als or com­pan­ies. The re­port shows that the gifts ranged from air travel, to lodging and meals, to golf out­ings, car rent­al, and even a pair of Le Chameau boots.

“I have made each of the pay­ments re­com­men­ded by the Com­mit­tee and have taken sig­ni­fic­ant steps since 2007 to strengthen my of­fice’s policies for com­pli­ance with the Code of Con­duct to en­sure that these types of over­sights do not hap­pen again,” Young said in his Fri­day state­ment. “It is through these ac­tions that I show my col­leagues and Alaskans that I fully re­spect the House Rules and will con­tin­ue to com­ply with them now and in the fu­ture.”

The com­mit­tee says it re­cog­nizes the steps Young has taken to be in com­pli­ance. But Young’s re­gret and his ef­forts at com­pli­ance, it says, “do not over­come the need for a let­ter of re­prov­al.”

“Ac­cord­ingly, based on your con­duct in this mat­ter, the com­mit­tee has un­an­im­ously de­term­ined that you should be pub­licly re­proved,” states the let­ter dated June 18 to Young from Eth­ics Com­mit­tee Chair­man Mike Con­away of Texas and rank­ing mem­ber Linda Sanc­hez of Alaska.

One out­side gov­ern­ment watch group was clearly un­im­pressed with the Eth­ics Com­mit­tee’s de­cision not to go fur­ther, call­ing it a “non-pen­alty.”

“Not ex­actly the sort of strong ac­tion that will send shivers down the spines of cor­rupt law­makers any­where,” Melanie Sloan, Ex­ec­ut­ive Dir­ect­or of Cit­izens for Re­spons­ib­il­ity and Eth­ics in Wash­ing­ton, said in a state­ment.

“As if the non-pen­alty wer­en’t ri­dicu­lous enough, the com­mit­tee laugh­ably ‘com­men­ded’ Rep. Young for his re­cent ef­forts at com­ply­ing with the rules … only mem­bers of Con­gress could be so blind to the wrong­do­ing of one of their own. Just when you think the Eth­ics Com­mit­tee can’t do any­thing more em­bar­rass­ing, it does. No won­der Con­gress has a lower ap­prov­al rat­ing than cock­roaches,” said Sloan.

The in­vest­ig­a­tion dates from April 23, 2010, when Young him­self asked the com­mit­tee to look at cer­tain gifts he had re­ceived that the Justice De­part­ment was then re­view­ing.

Later that year, in Au­gust, the Justice De­part­ment sent a let­ter to the Eth­ics Com­mit­tee in­dic­at­ing it had in­vest­ig­ated the gifts and was re­fer­ring the mat­ter to the pan­el. After about two years of delays that the com­mit­tee ac­know­ledges was, in part, caused by it­self — as well as dis­putes with both Young and the Justice De­part­ment re­gard­ing leg­al dis­cov­ery of in­form­a­tion in their pos­ses­sion — the com­mit­tee even­tu­ally ap­poin­ted a spe­cial in­vest­ig­at­ive sub­com­mit­tee in the mat­ter.

That sub­com­mit­tee ul­ti­mately in­ter­viewed 16 wit­ness, in­clud­ing a former Young chief of staff, former cam­paign man­ager, and oth­er staffers, as well as oth­er in­di­vidu­als who were par­ti­cipants on some of the trips. In all, the sub­com­mit­tee is­sued 20 sub­poen­as.

The sub­com­mit­tee vote April 29 to is­sue its re­port to the full com­mit­tee. Its re­port said that Young had vi­ol­ated House rules and oth­er laws, as well as stand­ards of con­duct. The sub­com­mit­tee re­com­men­ded the com­mit­tee is­sue a let­ter of re­prov­al, re­quire Young to re­pay the costs of the im­per­miss­ible trips and gifts, and amend his fin­an­cial-dis­clos­ure state­ments.

But the sub­com­mit­tee said it did not be­lieve that a sanc­tion re­quir­ing ac­tion by the full House was war­ran­ted.

What We're Following See More »
CYBER THREATS INCREASING
Clapper: ISIS Will Try to Attack U.S. This Year
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

“Leaders of the Islamic State are determined to strike targets in the United States this year,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a congressional panel today. Clapper added that “al-Qaida, from which the Islamic State spun off, remains an enemy and the U.S. will continue to see cyber threats from China, Russia and North Korea, which also is ramping up its nuclear program.”

Source:
CLYBURN WEIGHING HIS OWN NOD
CBC PAC to Endorse Clinton This Morning
1 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

The Congressional Black Caucus PAC will formally endorse Hillary Clinton this morning, and “nearly a dozen CBC colleagues will descend on” South Carolina next week in advance of that state’s important primary. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the highest ranking black member of Congress, reversed his earlier position of neutrality, saying he’ll make a decision “later in the week.”

Source:
×