Politics & Government

Don Young's campaign funds pay for more attorney bills

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Don Young's most recent campaign finance report shows that he continues to pay his sizeable legal bills using his campaign account.

Young's most recent filing with the Federal Election Commission shows that the Alaska Republican spent $20,000 last quarter with the Seattle law firm Siderius, Lonergan and Martin. It's not clear whether those bills were for campaign-related expenses or connected to an ongoing federal criminal probe. Young's campaign spokesman didn't return a phone call seeking comment.

Earlier this year, Young's campaign paid $90,020 to John Wolfe, a Seattle attorney who represented Young's campaign manager, Steve Dougherty, in the investigation.

Since the beginning of 2007, Young has spent more than $1 million in campaign contributions on legal fees related to a Justice Department probe -- which includes an investigation into fundraising.

Federal Election Commission guidelines allow public officials to spend their campaign money on attorneys, as long as the legal work is connected to the lawmaker's role as an officeholder. But Young also set up a separate legal expense fund to pay some legal bills; so far, that fund has raised $77,000 and spent $48,000 on Young's legal bills.

In a debate during the campaign, Young said that his legal defense has been expensive, and that he has used campaign money because he doesn't have his own money to spend defending the inquiry. He has consistently refused to detail the exact nature of the investigation, but Congress has called on the Justice Department to investigate an earmark in Florida that stood to benefit a campaign contributor.

Young has also been tied to a federal probe into corruption in Alaska politics, which included the fundraising practices of the former oil-services company Veco Corp. and Bill Allen, its chief executive. Allen was the star witness in the October trial of Sen. Ted Stevens, who was found guilty on seven counts of failing to disclose gifts on his U.S. Senate financial disclosure forms.

Young's new report also shows that overall he raised $1.1 million in his successful bid to fend off opponents in August's primary and last month's general election. He spent $3.1 million, which included money he had amassed in previous election cycles. More than $1 million went toward his legal bills.

The reports show that his Democratic challenger last month, Ethan Berkowitz, spent all but $17,194 of the $1.6 million he raised for the campaign.