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Don Young: Latest ethics probe won't hinder work on behalf of Alaska

Pat Forgey
Rep. Don Young accepts congratulations after winning his 21st term last year. Loren Holmes photo

JUNEAU -- The latest investigation by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ethics targeting Rep. Don Young won't hinder his work in Congress on behalf of Alaska, he told reporters in Juneau Thursday. In fact, he joked that the latest ethics cloud wasn't even cause for concern.

"I've been under a cloud all my life," he said. "It's sort of like living in Juneau -- it rains on you all the time and you don't even notice it."

Young, who has been Alaska's only congressman since 1973, is under investigation on allegations of improperly accepting gifts. At the same time the investigation of Young was announced, the committee said it also was investigating similar charges against Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J. 

Young blamed that for his own, latest ethics investigation. "I truly believe they had to have a Republican as well as a Democrat and, as you know, Andrew is under scrutiny too," he said.

The charges against Young were earlier investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Young said he was found "totally innocent" of those charges. Criminal standards and House ethics rules differ, Young acknowledged. The allegations against Young involve accepting travel and hunting trips that were not disclosed. Still, Young sounded confident he'd be cleared. "I'm not concerned about it," he said.

Young also said he will file for another term, and would continue to seek re-election because nobody could do a better job representing Alaska. If re-elected, he’ll continue to serve "until the day I can't physically do it," he said. "I feel good, I'm better than anybody else at this job."

Young told the Alaska Federation of Natives convention in 2011 that he'd like to eventually be replaced in Congress by an Alaska Native woman, but said Thursday that wouldn't happen any time soon.

"I realize that somebody will replace me some day, or God will take me -- or the devil -- but right now I don't think anybody else can do the job that I can do for the state," he said.

Representing Alaska means not just Anchorage, Juneau or Fairbanks, but the entire state, and Young said he’s been successful reaching out to rural Alaska communities.

Contact Pat Forgey at pat(at)alaskadispatch.com