Clock Ticking on Young’s Resources Perch

Posted December 9, 2008 at 3:20pm

Updated: 6:41 p.m.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) will not back Rep. Don Young (Alaska) as the top Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee in the 111th Congress, Boehner told the 18-term lawmaker in a meeting Tuesday.

Boehner met with Young to inform his Alaska colleague that in the face of mounting ethical questions, he did not want him to return to the ranking member position. Boehner told Young that the GOP Steering Committee also was unlikely to support his bid to keep the slot, according to a Capitol Hill source.

Young and Boehner’s offices could not be immediately reached for comment, but Young’s spokesman indicated last week that Young would seek the senior GOP position on the committee.

Young received just over 50 percent to secure re-election. In November, he chose not to seek his regional position on the Steering Committee, which was filled by Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho).

Young, the third-most-senior Member of the House, is allegedly under federal investigation for accepting illegal campaign donations. Last quarter, Young spent some $20,000 to retain a Seattle-based law firm.

In April, the House and Senate voted to support a Justice Department probe into Young’s role in inserting the “Coconut Road” earmark into a transportation bill. The probe was launched after the bill cleared both chambers.

Young served as chairman of the resources committee from 1995 until 2001, when he left to serve as the chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. He took the ranking position on the resources panel in 2007.

This is the third time Boehner has approached an embattled Member to relinquish a committee post. In April 2007, he asked Reps. John Doolittle (R-Calif.) and Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) to give up plum slots following unrelated FBI raids of their homes and offices.

Neither Doolittle nor Renzi sought re-election in the 2008 campaign cycle.

In a December memo from his Freedom Project political action committee, Boehner said the defeat of a ethically challenged Democratic Rep. William Jefferson (La.) by Republican Anh “Joseph” Cao in a heavily Democratic district showed that Americans would not stand for corrupt leadership in Congress.

“The Cao victory is a symbol of our future,” he said. “In the two years ahead, House Republicans will demonstrate our commitment to reform by holding ourselves to the highest possible ethical standard — and, with new faces like Joseph Cao and John Fleming and the rest of the incoming GOP freshman class in our ranks, by presenting principled, superior solutions to the challenges facing our country.”