Alaska's Young still paying legal bills from campaign funds

McClatchy NewspapersJuly 15, 2009 

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, continues to have sizeable legal bills, and he continues to pay them out of his campaign finance account, according to disclosure forms filed this week with the Federal Election Commission.

The reports show that Young's campaign spent at least $37,267 on lawyers over the past three months. The payments went to several law firms, but the disclosures don't say whether all three have been handling a federal probe of his fundraising and other matters, including an earmark that benefited a campaign contributor in Florida. Last quarter, the campaign showed no payments to legal firms.

The expenses include $5,000 to Akin, Gump, Strauss and Hauer of Washington D.C., which is representing Young in criminal investigations; $10,000 to the Seattle firm Siderrius, Lonergan and Martin; and $22,267.17 to Tobin, O’Connor, Ewing and Richard, also of Washington D.C.

Young's campaign also owes Tobin O'Connor $46,042, the FEC reports show.

"The expenses came about as the campaign did a review and analysis, going back several campaign cycles, of its financial records and disclosures,” said Young’s campaign spokeswoman, Pamela Day, who also serves as his chief of staff. "The campaign found no anomalies during this review. When you are required to file four reports each year plus countless additional reports in an election year, you can imagine the large volume of data that was reviewed."

Since early 2007, Young has spent $1.15 million from his campaign fund on legal bills connected to federal investigations. He also has spent an additional $73,415 on lawyers out of a separate legal expense fund he has created. Last year, about $77,000 was donated to that fund, according to the "gifts" section of his annual financial disclosure to the House.

Young raised $116,749 for his campaign in the last quarter, bringing his total fundraising the 2010 election cycle to $232,108. Young, who recently announced that he would seek his 20th term in office in 2010, has far less in his re-election account than previous election years, when he went into the campaign season with over $1 million. He has just $129,263 cash on hand this election cycle.

So far, no challengers have emerged to run against Young in 2010. Democrat Ethan Berkowitz, who ran against Young last year, has said he won't seek a rematch and is considering a run for governor instead. Young defeated Berkowitz by over 16,000 votes. Young had a more difficult contest in the Republican primary, beating Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell by just 304 votes. Parnell will become governor when Gov. Sarah Palin steps down later this month.

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