Friday, December 3, 2010

Don Young and Charlie Rangel


U.S. Rep. Don Young was one of only two Republicans who voted against the censure of Rep. Charlie Rangel (D.-N.Y.), which passed 333-79. The other Republican was Peter King, like Rangel a veteran member of the House delegation from New York City’s metropolitan area.

You could think of three reasons for Young to vote “No” on the censure of Rangel, who faced allegations involving failures to report income and improper charitable fund-raising.

The first would be the one offered by Young himself: He has never voted to censure a fellow Member of the House, preferring to let the voters decide on the consequences of a Member’s ethical violations.

A second factor would be fellow feeling arising from all their years of service together. You might think that it would hard to find two guys more dissimilar than the moose-hunting former riverboat captain and the long-time clubhouse pol from Harlem, but the two have had decades to build bonds. Both Young and Rangel have been in the U.S. House more than 35 years, and Rangel is one of only eight Members of Congress who have served on Capitol Hill longer than Young.

A third reason would be a different kind of solidarity between the pair, one that Erika Bolstad highlighted in the Anchorage Daily News: Young knows what it’s like to be under ethical scrutiny. “The Congressman for all Alaska” was under federal criminal investigation for a number of years on multiple fronts, including his receipt of gifts and campaign contributions from VECO executives Bill Allen and Rick Smith--now in federal prison. The House and Senate also voted in 2008 to ask the Department of Justice to investigate how the language in the "Coconut Road" earmark changed after the legislation passed both houses. This earmark for a Florida interchange project appeared in a transportation bill championed by Young shortly after a real estate developer who would benefit from the earmark raised $40,000 in campaign contributions for the Congressman.

Young announced less than four months ago that the Department of Justice had told him that the federal government had ended the federal criminal probe of him. Young, like Rangel, was re-elected to another term in the House last month.

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