Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Justice For All-- Especially Sleazy Republican Congressman Bill Young


Young (right) left his own makeup home

The DCCC is very excited about their prospects for unseating long-term (since 1970) Pinellas County Congressman Bill Young, a somewhat feeble member who was born even before FDR was elected president to clean up Young's conservative party had done to the country. Young has long been a colorless rubber stamp for Big Business and the status quo, making him a perfect fit for the national GOP-- if not the rapidly changing 10th CD, which now has a D+1 PVI and only gave John McCain 47% of its vote (as opposed to 51% for Bush in 2004). The DCCC is enthusiastic about their candidate, St Petersburg state Senator Charlie Justice. Support from Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the DCCC makes me suspicious of any Florida candidate and I'll have to look a little closer at where Justice stands on key issues-- his website, in fine D-Trip tradition is very skimpy on controversial issue positions-- but I know he has been a champion in the battle against offshore drilling. And yesterday I was impressed with a press release I got from his office.

Turns out it's the first of an expected series billed as a 10 Count Indictment Against Bill Young. In it Justice accused Young of earmarking millions for the U.S.S. Intrepid, a floating museum in New York, in exchange for campaign contributions. Young is considered the worst Republican earmarker in the House and his career is pocked with a series of sleazy deals he's made to give corporate contributors earmarks in return for cash. The particular 1998 earmark Justice was talking about yesterday, in the amount of $13 million, has netted him $120,000 in campaign contributions over the years according to Justice’s indictment.

From the press release:  “It’s curious that a congressman who represents a tourist destination state like Florida would hide $13 million in taxpayers’ money for a tourist destination in New York Harbor. It’s curious, at least, until you learn that Congressman Bill Young got $120,000 in contributions to his campaign in return for boosting tourism in New York.” It was an open secret around Washington, but very hush-hush in Pinellas County, that Young has used his earmarking ability to benefit New Yorkers and himself while leaving hard pressed west coast Florida residents with nothing to show for it.

Young replied to the St Petersburg Times with typically irrational hysterics and name-calling: "The radical left wants me out of Congress because they just don’t want a voice for reason and Constitutional government who stands in the way of their big government power play..." His campaign also claimed that Justice "is not immune to ‘earmarks,’ pointing out that in 2006 Gov. Jeb Bush vetoed his request for spend $187,000 to replace windows and add a generator to a building operated by the Pinellas Association for Retarded Children for use as a hurricane shelter ."

Hmmm… Are all earmarks equal?

Young campaign contributor Howard Lutnick, chairman and CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, a global financial services firm specializing in bond trading, came to Young’s defense, claiming that Young is committed to New York because of 9/11.

"Congressman Bill Young's support of New York in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks is legendary," Lutnick said in a statement. "All of us affected by 9/11, including the families of our 658 employees who perished in the attacks, deeply appreciated his support and compassion and strong leadership, which were instrumental in helping New York recover. We will continue to support Congressman Young as long as he serves in Congress."

Uh, Howard, Young’s earmark for the Intrepid came in 1998, three years before 9/11.

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At 5:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to work for Cantor Fitzgerald. IIRC, CF and Mr. Lutnick have long had an interest in the Intrepid, although it may be nothing more than they just like it and so are fans and boosters of it.

At 5:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where "long" interest means pre-9/11 -- at least much of the 1990s.

At 8:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Young's support of defense contractor Custom Manufacturing & Engineering, also doing business as Defense Electronics Corporation, should be under close scrutiny, especially as the company has consumed millions of taxpayer dollars on earmarked contracts, with little results.


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