Politics & Government

Alaska Rep. Young labeled 'rogue' in memo over gas tax plan

A document filed in the corruption case of a former top aide to U.S. Rep. Don Young offers an inside glimpse into Young's fall from favor with fellow Republicans in 2003 over his push to nearly double the federal tax on gasoline.

The e-mailed memo was an "Intel" report from a transportation lobbyist to his client in Missouri. The memo quoted staff from the Republican House leadership describing Young as a "rogue member" even as he chaired a major committee. At the same time, the memo said, the Bush White House was trying to beat back the tax increase without publicly embarrassing Young but was growing increasingly upset "with the way he keeps pushing forward."

The memo was filed July 8 in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. It dates back to the third year of Young's six-year reign over the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. At the time, Young was preparing a colossal, pork-filled highways bill and believed he could pay for it by increasing the gas tax.

The memo was dated March 13, 2003, eight months before Young released the first, $375 billion version of his transportation bill.

A spokeswoman for Young, Meredith Kenny, said Young wouldn't comment on the memo. In 2003, he said the huge bill was necessary because the U.S. highway system was becoming outmoded and clogged. According to Kenny, Young was concerned that the means for paying for road construction, the Highway Trust Fund, was being depleted because cars were getting better gas mileage. For each mile driven, less tax -- Young called it a "user fee" -- was being collected.

"Rep. Young is in favor of providing long-term highway trust solvency (in) whichever manner is most efficient to accomplish that," Kenny said.

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