Just Saying No To Earmarksby Doug Mataconis
WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 — It is not often that a local government tries to turn down $10 million in federal construction money.
But then it is not every day that an Alaska congressman surprises a Florida community with the gift of a highway interchange that just happens to abut the property of a major political fund-raiser.
The money for the interchange was the work of Representative Don Young, the Alaska Republican who was chairman of the transportation committee before the last election.
Officials of Lee County considered the project a low priority, environmental groups opposed it and the Republican congressman from the district never asked for it.
Why, you may ask, is a Congressman in Alaska giving your money, and mine, to a county way down in Florida ? Well, that’s where the story becomes very interesting:
[T]he interchange, on Interstate 75 at a place called Coconut Road, would be a boon to Daniel J. Aronoff, a Michigan real estate developer with adjacent property who helped raise $40,000 in donations to Mr. Young at a fund-raiser in the region shortly before Mr. Young inserted an earmark for the project in a transportation bill.
Adding to the intrigue, a researcher commissioned by Ms. Johnston said Mr. Young had added the earmark for the interchange to a transportation bill after both chambers of Congress had approved it, at a time Congressional aides were cleaning up the bill for President Bush’s signature.
None of this should be surprising, though. This is the same Congressman Don Young who, only a few weeks ago, said the following:
Rep. Don Young attacked his fellow Republicans on the House floor Wednesday, as he defended education funds allocated to his home state of Alaska.
“You want my money, my money,” Young stridently declared before warning conservatives that “those who bite me will be bitten back.”
And he’s also responsible for the Bridge To Nowhere.
Nonetheless, this is a particularly egregious example of Congressional corruption, and the people of Lee County should be applauded for saying no to Congressman Young’s “gift.”