|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alaska's At-large district
March 6, 1973
|Preceded by||Nick Begich|
|Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee|
January 3, 2001 – January 3, 2007
|Preceded by||Bud Shuster|
|Succeeded by||Jim Oberstar|
|Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee|
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2001
|Preceded by||George Miller|
|Succeeded by||James V. Hansen|
|Member of the Alaska Senate from District I|
January 11, 1971 – March 6, 1973
|Preceded by||Paul B. Haggland|
|Succeeded by||George C. Silides|
|Member of the Alaska House of Representatives from District 16|
January 23, 1967 – January 10, 1971
|Member of the Fort Yukon City Council|
|Born||Donald Edwin Young
June 9, 1933
|Spouse(s)||Lula "Lu" Young (née Fredson; 1963–2009, her death)|
|Residence||Fort Yukon, Alaska|
|Alma mater||California State University, Chico|
|Occupation||Mariner, construction worker, miner, elementary school teacher|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1955–1957|
|Unit||41st Tank Battalion|
Young is the dean of the Alaskan congressional delegation, the fourth most senior U.S. Representative and the most senior Republican Representative.
- 1 Early life, education, and pre-political career
- 2 Early political career
- 3 U.S. House of Representatives
- 3.1 Elections
- 3.2 Tenure
- 3.2.1 "Bridge to Nowhere" controversy
- 3.2.2 Knik Arm Bridge
- 3.2.3 Allegations of campaign fund misuse and earmark misuse
- 3.2.4 Comments on the Deepwater Horizon Spill
- 3.2.5 Support for oil drilling in ANWR
- 3.2.6 Use of a Latino slur on the radio
- 3.3 Committee assignments
- 3.4 Caucus memberships
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Electoral history
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
Early life, education, and pre-political career
Young was born in Meridian, Sutter County, California. He earned an associate's degree in education from Yuba College in 1952 and a bachelor's degree from Chico State College in 1958. He served in the Army from 1955 to 1957.
Young moved to Alaska in 1959, not long after it became a state. He eventually settled in Fort Yukon, a 700-person city on the Yukon River, seven miles (11 km) above the Arctic Circle in Alaska’s central interior region. He made a living in construction, fishing, trapping and gold mining. He captained a tugboat and ran a barge operation to deliver products and supplies to villages along the Yukon River. He still holds his mariner's license. During the winter, he taught fifth grade at the local Bureau of Indian Affairs elementary school.
Early political career
Young began his political career in 1964 when he was elected mayor of Fort Yukon. After only one term, he was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives and served two terms before being elected to the Alaska Senate in 1970.
U.S. House of Representatives
Alaska's at-large congressman, Democrat Nick Begich, disappeared in a plane crash on October 16, 1972; he was reelected to the House that November, but was declared dead on December 29. Young, who had been the Republican candidate against Begich in November, ran in the special election in March 1973 and won with 51% of the vote against Democrat Emil Notti. He won a full term in 1974 with 54% of the vote. He credits his victory to his leadership of the fight for the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline System.
He won reelection with at least 55% of vote all but three other times in his career (1990, 1992, and 2008). In 1982 and 1984, he defeated Nick Begich's wife, Pegge Begich, with 55% and 57% respectively. In 1990 he won reelection with 52% against John Devens, the Mayor of Valdez. In 1992, he defeated Devens again, this time with 47%: the lowest winning percentage of his career and the only time he won without a majority vote. Young's largest winning percentage was in 2002 (75%), and the most votes he got was in 2004 (213,216).
- Republican primary
In light of many of the controversies, incumbent Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell announced he would run against Young in the August 26, 2008 Republican primary. Parnell was strongly supported by Gov. Sarah Palin, the Club for Growth, and many other organizations that opposed what they viewed to be corrupt behavior by Young. This was the first primary since he was first elected in which Young faced a strong challenge.
Young received the endorsement of Mike Huckabee's political action committee, Huck PAC, in June 2008. After a storm of negative reaction, Huckabee explained on the Huck PAC blog that the endorsement was due in part to Young's endorsement and steadfast support of Huckabee during the 2008 Republican presidential primaries.
Final results on September 18 showed Young winning by 304 votes (0.28%), and Parnell announced that he would not seek a recount. Prior to the announcement of the unofficial results, both candidates had said that they would request a recount if they lost. The state of Alaska pays the costs of recounts when the difference is within a half percent, as it was in this primary election.
- General election
Young faced a strong challenge from Democrat Ethan Berkowitz, the 46-year-old former minority leader in the Alaska House of Representatives. Don Wright, the Alaskan Independence Party nominee, also challenged Young.
Young announced in 2009 that he will be seeking his 20th term. Young won the Republican primary with 70% of the vote against Sheldon Fisher and John R. Cox. He was challenged by Democratic nominee State Representative Harry Crawford. Young defeated him with 69% of the vote.
Young drew two challengers in the Republican party, but easily defeated them. He won the primary with 79% of the vote. In November, he won reelection to his 21st term, defeating State Representative Sharon Cissna, the Democratic nominee, 64%-29%.
||The neutrality of this section is disputed. (May 2013)|
As of October 18, 2013, Young is the fourth longest-serving House member, and the most-senior Republican. Due to his long tenure in the House and that of former Senator Ted Stevens, Alaska is considered to have clout in national politics far beyond its small population (it has long been one of the smallest states in population and is currently 47th, ahead of only North Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming). He is often called "Alaska's third senator." Young chaired the Committee on Natural Resources from the 1995 Republican takeover of the House until 2001. He then chaired the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure from 2001 to 2007. He is currently the second-highest ranking Republican on both committees.
Young's voting record is relatively moderate by Republican standards. He has a lifetime rating of 77 from the American Conservative Union. He most often crosses lines on issues affecting labor. He was one of a small number of Republicans to vote against the Teamwork for Employees and Managers Act of 1995, some free trade agreements, and was one of only 13 Republican congressmen to vote for the Employee Free Choice Act in 2007. His voting record is anti-abortion and anti-gun control, but he was also among the Republicans to vote in favor of more federal funds for stem cell research and voted against the re-authorization of the Patriot Act. He is known for his opposition to federal control of Alaska's land and resources. He is also a strong proponent of opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
During a 1994 House debate touching on the question of Alaska Natives' right to sell sex organs of endangered animals for the purpose of aphrodisiacs, he pulled out an eighteen-inch penis bone of a walrus, better known as an Oosik. He brandished it like a sword on the House floor at the face of the head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
At a high school assembly in 2004, Young was answering questions about cutting federal funding for the arts. He said that such funding had "photographs of people doing offensive things," and "things that are absolutely ridiculous." When asked for an example, Young quickly replied "buttfucking", in reference to Robert Mapplethorpe's photographic exhibition The Perfect Moment.
In 2000, when evidence surfaced that the Pittman-Robertson Act conservation trust funds were being mismanaged, Young introduced the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs Improvement Act. The bill passed the House 423-2 and became law on Nov. 1, 2000 and defines in what manner the monies can be spent.
In July 2007, fellow Republican Congressman Scott Garrett of New Jersey proposed an amendment to strike money in a spending bill for native Alaskan and Hawaiian educational programs. Young defended the funds on the floor of the House, stating that "You want my money, my money." Young also stated that "Those who bite me will be bitten back." Young went on to suggest that conservative Republicans such as Garrett lost the Republicans their majority in the 2006 election by challenging spending earmarks, and made several critical remarks about the state of New Jersey. While Garrett did not ask for an official reprimand, other conservative Republicans took exception to Young's remarks that the funds in question represented his money. Members of the conservative Republican Study Committee gave Garrett a standing ovation later in the day during the group's weekly meeting and Virginia Foxx of North Carolina compared Young's earmarks to "legal theft."
Although Congressman Young is considered to be Pro-Life and was quoted saying, "… I have always voted for pro-life legislation as I believe an unborn child is a human being and should be protected through all stages of life," (1997) his official positions on the subject do not make abortion illegal in every scenario. Young believes that abortion should be legal only when the pregnancy is a result of incest or rape, or in the case that a woman’s life is endangered by her pregnancy. He has addressed the issue of the time-period in which abortions should be legal, saying he does not think abortions should be limited to the first trimester of a pregnancy, and also disagrees with the idea of federal subsidies prohibiting abortions.
According to The New Republic, Young is "well-known for his sharp elbows and generous appetite for legislative pork." His reputation for steering federal dollars to Alaska is almost as legendary as that of Ted Stevens. For example, in the 2005 Highway Bill, Young helped secure $941 million for 119 "special projects," including a $231 million bridge in Anchorage that a rider in the bill named for Young himself.
Young introduced the Huna Tlingit Traditional Gull Egg Use Act (H.R. 3110; 113th Congress) on September 17, 2013. The bill would authorize the Hoonah Indian Association to harvest glaucous-winged gull eggs from Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska twice a year from up to five locations. Young said that "passage of this legislation is an important step for upholding the traditional way of life for Alaska's First People." Young also said that "it’s a shame that even after Congress amended the Migratory Bird Act in 1995 to allow for customary and traditional use of migratory birds by indigenous inhabitants of Alaska, gull egg harvests remained prohibited under National Park Service regulation."
Young introduced the To amend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to exempt certain Alaskan Native articles from prohibitions against sale of items containing nonedible migratory bird parts (H.R. 3109; 113th Congress) into the House on September 17, 2013. The bill would allow Alaskan Natives to make and sell traditional handicrafts such as masks, jewelry, clothing, and hunting equipment that are made from parts of migratory birds, particularly feathers. The bill passed the House in a voice vote on September 8, 2014.
Young introduced the bill H.R. 3786 on December 16, 2013. The bill would allow the federal government to sell nine acres of land and the building on it to the city of Anchorage, Alaska. The land is currently owned and used by the National Archives and Records Administration to store "ongoing federal records and Alaska records dating back to its purchase in 1867."
"Bridge to Nowhere" controversy
In 2005, Young and Stevens earmarked $223 million for building the enormous Gravina Island Bridge from Ketchikan to Gravina Island, which also contains Ketchikan's airport. The bridge would be used for access by emergency vehicles, as well as passengers. Currently there is a small car and passenger ferry that travels the 1/4 mile (400 m) crossing in 3 to 7 minutes and runs every half hour. Critics assailed this as pork barrel spending at taxpayers' expense and dubbed it the "Bridge to Nowhere." The Gravinia Island Bridge was awarded a Golden Fleece by the federal budget watchdog organization Taxpayers for Common Sense in 2003. After criticism from citizens and others in Congress, lawmakers de-funded the bridge and instead funneled the money to Alaska's Department of Transportation, allowing the Governor of Alaska to start road construction after the Alaska Legislature funded the project with the directed monies.
Another bridge earmarked in the bill connects Anchorage to Pt. Mackenzie, a lightly populated area in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough that is situated less than four miles (6 km) across Cook Inlet from downtown Anchorage.
Currently, Anchorage is accessible from Point Mackenzie only by an 80-mile (130 km) route around Knik Arm, much of which is an unimproved road. The demise of this second bridge project has been suggested for years.
He was listed as the third-worst congressman by the popular magazine Rolling Stone, and dubbed "Mr. Pork" due to his involvement in the Gravina Island "Bridge to Nowhere" incident. In the article, Young is quoted as saying that "Environmentalists are a self-centered bunch of waffle-stomping, Harvard-graduating, intellectual idiots" who "are not Americans, never have been Americans, never will be Americans."
2007 Federal Investigation
On July 24, 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported that Young was under federal investigation for possibly taking bribes, illegal gratuities or unreported gifts from VECO Corporation, an Anchorage-based company. The top two executives of that company had already pleaded guilty to bribing members of the Alaska legislature. The Journal said a VECO executive held fundraisers called "the Pig Roast" for Young every August for ten years. Between 1996 and 2006, Young received $157,000 from VECO employees and its political action committee. In the first half of 2007, Young spent more than $250,000 of his campaign contributions for legal fees.
A confession signed by Bill Allen, the former chief of VECO, was released in October 2009. Allen agreed that from 1993 to August 2006, both he and his deputy at VECO, Rick Smith, "provided things of value to United States Representative A," a reference to Young. For example, in June 2006, Smith obtained a set of golf clubs, costing approximately $1,000, that Smith gave to Young. Although Young was obligated in 2006 to report gifts with a value of more than $335, he didn't report receiving any gifts on the personal financial disclosure form he filed with the House of Representatives for that year.
In August 2010, the investigation launched by the FBI was closed. The office noted that the evidentiary findings of their investigation were being forwarded to the Ethics Commission. The Ethics Committee made no official findings.
2013 Federal Investigation
In March 2013, the House Ethics Committee created another special committee to investigate more allegations that Young improperly accepted gifts, used campaign funds for personal expenses, failed to report gifts in financial disclosure documents, and made false statements to federal officials. On future predictions, Young stated "it will go forever. I've been under a cloud all my life. I'm sort of like living in Juneau. It rains on you all the time. You don't even notice it."
The Ethics Committee is now forming a sub-committee charged with the duty of determining whether or not Young broke the law. There is no timeline for either the sub-committee, or the Ethics Committee, to release its findings.
Allegations of campaign fund misuse and earmark misuse
Congressman Young was included in the annual listing of the most corrupt members of Congress compiled by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington in reports on Congressional corruption. CREW said he had been investigated for a 2005 earmark which benefitted a campaign donor, and for using campaign funds for personal expenses. No charges have been brought at any time for any criminal wrongdoing after investigations by the FBI. The House Ethics Committee found he had improperly used campaign funds for personal expenses.
Comments on the Deepwater Horizon Spill
In late 2010, Obama administration officials stated that the Deepwater Horizon blowout exceeded the Exxon Valdez spill, as they estimated that the gusher had spewed between 15 million US gallons (57,000 m3) and 40 million US gallons (150,000 m3) of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Young said that the oil pumping into the Gulf was not an "environmental disaster", stating that it was a "natural phenomena" as "oil has seeped into this ocean for centuries, will continue to do it. During World War II there was over 10,000,000 barrels (1,600,000 m3) of oil spilt from ships, and no natural catastrophe. We will lose some birds, we will lose some fixed sealife, but overall it will recover."
Support for oil drilling in ANWR
|This section requires expansion. (May 2013)|
The Arctic Refuge drilling controversy has repeatedly brought Don Young into the national spotlight. Young has been a longstanding supporter of opening lands within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration. He has included provisions to that effect in 12 bills that have passed the House of Representatives, but environmentalists concerned with the impact of road-building, pipelines and other development on the Arctic tundra landscape have thus far successfully defeated such legislation in the Senate.
On November 18, 2011, Young got into an argument during a Congressional hearing with Douglas Brinkley, a historian who teaches at Rice University in Texas, over the idea of drilling in ANWR. During Brinkley’s testimony Young was not present in the room, yet still to responded to the speech Brinkley had made. Young himself commented that his absence during Brinkley's testimony was attributable to a pre-scheduled vote on the House floor. Young not only referred to Brinkley’s argument as “garbage”, but also addressed Brinkley as “Mr. Rice,” (rather than Dr. Brinkley). Brinkley responded with remarks about Young's own education, stating, "I know you went to Yuba College and couldn't graduate." Young reaction, “I’ll say anything I want to say! You just be quiet!”, was met with Brinkley's refusal, and response that Young, "didn't own [him]" and quipping that as a taxpayer, he pays Young's salary. The two continued arguing intermittently throughout the hearing, with the committee chairman ultimately threatening Brinkley with removal.
Use of a Latino slur on the radio
On March 28, 2013, Young caused some controversy when he used the ethnic slur "wetbacks" during a radio interview to describe Latino migrant farm workers who worked at his father's ranch when he was growing up. Young issued a statement later that day saying that he "meant no disrespect" and that he "used a term that was commonly used during my days growing up on a farm in central California". The Associated Press said that while Rep. Young explained his statement, he "did not apologize." Prominent figures in the Republican Party, including House Speaker John Boehner and Senator John Cornyn, condemned the remarks as "offensive" and "derogatory". On March 29, 2013, Latino advocacy group Presente.org called for Rep. Young's resignation in reaction to his use of the slur. On March 29, 2013, Young issued a formal apology for his remarks, stating, "I apologize for the insensitive term," and that "it was a poor choice of words."
- Committee on Natural Resources
- Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
- Arthritis Caucus
- Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus
- House Biomedical Research Caucus
- House Diabetes Caucus
- International Conservation Caucus
- Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus
- Sportsmen's Caucus
Young was married to the former Lula Fredson, an indigenous Gwich'in. She volunteered her time serving as the manager of her husband's Washington, D.C. congressional office. They had two daughters and were members of the Episcopal Church. Lula died on August 1, 2009 at the age of 67.
On August 17, 2014, Young announced his engagement to Anne Garland Walton, a flight nurse.
|Year||Republican||Votes||Pct||Democratic||Votes||Pct||Third Party||Votes||Pct||Third Party||Votes||Pct||Third Party||Votes||Pct||Write-in votes||Write-in %|
|1972||Don Young||41,750||43.76%||Nick J. Begich*||53,651||56.24%|
|1973||Don Young||35,044||51.41%||Emil Notti||33,123||48.39%|
|1974||Don Young*||51,641||53.84%||William L. Hensley||44,280||46.16%|
|1976||Don Young*||83,722||71.00%||Eben Hopson||34,194||29.00%|
|1978||Don Young*||68,811||55.41%||Patrick Rodey||55,176||44.43%||200||0.16%|
|1980||Don Young*||114,089||73.79%||Kevin Parnell||39,922||25.82%||607||0.39%|
|1982||Don Young*||128,274||70.84%||Dave Carlson||52,011||28.72%||799||0.44%|
|1984||Don Young*||113,582||55.02%||Pegge Begich||86,052||41.68%||Betty Breck (I)||6,508||3.15%||295||0.14%|
|1986||Don Young*||101,799||56.47%||Pegge Begich||74,053||41.08%||Betty Breck (L)||4,182||2.32%||243||0.14%|
|1988||Don Young*||120,595||62.50%||Peter Gruenstein||71,881||37.25%||479||0.25%|
|1990||Don Young*||99,003||51.66%||John S. Devens||91,677||47.84%||967||0.51%|
|1992||Don Young*||111,849||46.78%||John S. Devens||102,378||42.82%||Michael States (AKI)||15,049||6.29%||Mike Milligan (G)||9,529||3.99%||311||0.13%|
|1994||Don Young*||118,537||56.92%||Tony Smith||68,172||32.74%||Joni Whitmore (G)||21,277||10.22%||254||0.12%|
|1996||Don Young*||138,834||59.41%||Georgianna Lincoln||85,114||36.42%||William J. Nemec II (AKI)||5,017||2.15%||John J. G. Grames (G)||4,513||1.93%||222||0.10%|
|1998||Don Young*||139,676||62.55%||Jim Duncan||77,232||34.59%||John J. G. Grames (G)||5,923||2.65%||469||0.21%|
|2000||Don Young*||190,862||69.56%||Clifford Mark Greene||45,372||16.54%||Anna C. Young (G)||22,440||8.18%||Jim Dore (AKI)||10,085||3.68%||Leonard J. Karpinski (L)||4,802||1.75%||832||0.30%|
|2002||Don Young*||169,685||74.66%||Clifford Mark Greene||39,357||17.32%||Russell deForest (G)||14,435||6.35%||Rob Clift (L)||3,797||1.67%||291||0.00%|
|2004||Don Young*||213,216||71.34%||Thomas M. Higgins||67,074||22.44%||Timothy A. Feller (G)||11,434||3.83%||Alvin A. Anders (L)||7,157||2.40%||1,115||0.4%|
|2006||Don Young*||132,743||56.57%||Diane E. Benson||93,879||40.01%||Alexander Crawford (L)||4,029||1.72%||Eva L. Ince (G)||1,819||0.78%||William W. Ratigan (I)||1,615||0.69%||560||0.24%|
|2008||Don Young*||158,939||50.14%||Ethan Berkowitz||142,560||44.98%||Don Wright (AKI)||14,274||4.50%||1,205||0.38%|
|2010||Don Young*||175,384||68.87%||Harry Crawford||77,606||30.64%||1,345||0.49%|
|2012||Don Young*||185,296||63.94%||Sharon Cissna||82,927||28.61%||Jim McDermott (L)||15,028||5.19%||Ted Gianoutsos (I)||5,589||1.93%||964||0.33%|
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For Nelson and his well-connected partners in Point Bluff LLC, Rep. Don Young's span is in fact a bridge to somewhere: their 60 acres of unobstructed view property on the Point MacKenzie side of Cook Inlet."
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- Rep. Don Young (R-AK) | CREW's Most Corrupt Members of Congress
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- "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
- "State of Alaska 2012 General Election". Alaska Division of Elections. November 28, 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
- Donald Young at 100 Years of Alaska's Legislature
- Don Young caught lying about debate over emissions bill Alaska Report, May 20, 2006
- Don Young Gives Self Fictitious "Hero of the Taxpayer" Award from Watchdog Group July 25, 2008
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- Congressman Don Young official U.S. House site
- Don Young for Congress
- Don Young at DMOZ
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Project Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at The Library of Congress
- Rep. Don Young's response to testimony from Dr. Douglas Brinkley regarding the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on YouTube, House Natural Resources Committee, Nov 18, 2011
|United States House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
|Chairman of House Resources Committee
James V. Hansen
|Chairman of House Transportation Committee
|United States order of precedence (ceremonial)|
Charles B. Rangel
|United States Representatives by seniority