In the first three months of this year, scandal-dogged Rep. Don Young (R-AK) raised $92,000 for his legal defense fund. That’s not so unusual. But, as Roll Call reports, the fact that $60,000 of that money came from a single Louisiana family is raising a few eyebrows.
Gary Chouest, the president of a marine transportation company, and his family members control 12 entities that each gave $5,000 donations to Young’s fund. Nine of the entities list identical post office box addresses.
Critics claim the donations may fall afoul of House rules which prohibit legal expense funds from accepting more than $5,000 from an individual or organization per year.
From Roll Call:
Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, suggested that Chouest was trying to get around those limits by making donations from his various subsidiaries.
“It does appear to be a classic evasion of contribution limits,” Holman said. He said the House Ethics Committee should investigate the contributions and find out who wrote the checks from each of the entities.
Last summer, the Department of Justice dropped a long-running corruption investigation of Young. The probe has reportedly focused on “pig roast” fundraisers organized by former oil executive Bill Allen. Allen previously told prosecutors that he gave gifts to Young, including a $1,000 set of golf clubs, as well as up to $200,000 in illegal campaign contributions.
The oil contracts awarded to Allen were also the focus of the investigation into the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK).
Young has also been tied to corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
In February, a federal jury in Washington convicted Young’s former aide on corruption charges related to his acceptance of an all-expenses paid trip to Game One of the 2003 World Series.