2010 is a mid-term election year, and even though we will not be choosing a President this time around, it is always vital for 21st Century Jeffersonians to follow genuine political news (as opposed to hack stories churned out by the noise machines of both the right and left) in order to best be able to make informed decisions when the time comes to cast one's ballot.
The general election isn't until November 2, but in the meantime, there are a number of primary elections that should be of interest to 21st Century Jeffersonians. One in particular will be the Republican primary for the Alaska At-Large House seat, which will take place on August 24. In this election, the voters of Alaska will have a chance to promote Jeffersonian values by removing an abjectly anti-Jeffersonian person from office.
The present incumbent in Alaska is Congressman Don Young, who is a case study for much that is currently wrong with Congress. Having held his seat since 1973, he has made a name for himself as one of the most adept representatives in funneling federal tax dollars to his state via pork barrel spending. Pork barrel spending has gotten completely out of control in Congress and is one of the reasons the federal government is in such a fiscal mess. It also undermines federalism by allowing the federal government to stick its nose into state and local issues, where it doesn't belong.
Congressman Young was one of two man (the other being disgraced former Senator Ted Stevens) behind perhaps the most infamous example of pork barrel spending in recent history, the so-called "Bridge to Nowhere". In 2005, Congressman Young attempted to insert an earmark allocating roughly a quarter of a billion dollars of taxpayer money to construct a bridge to Gravina Island in Alaska, which has a population of about fifty people. After massive public outcry against the earmark, Congress stripped it from the legislation, but only over Congressman Young's strident protests.
The Bridge to Nowhere may be Young's major claim to fame, but it is only the tip of the iceberg. In 2005, Young traveled to Florida and attended a fundraiser organized by a real estate developer named Daniel Aronoff, which raised about $40,000 for Young's campaign war chest. Almost immediately afterwards, Young inserted an earmark into a spending bill allocating $10 million for a highway extension project in Fort Meyer, Florida, from which Aronoff stood to reap handsome financial benefits. This because known as the Coconut Road scandal, and is a clear case of bribery, since there is no obviously legitimate reason for an Alaska congressman to seek to allocate money to a minor highway project in Florida. Consequently, the Justice Department has launched a bribery investigation against Young.
Young has also been the subject of corruption investigations due to his ties with the VECO Corporation, which builds oil drilling and gas pipeline equipment, and whose CEO pled guilty in 2007 for bribing members of the Alaska state legislature. VECO exectives have donated tens of thousands of dollars to Young's campaign war chest over the years, and Young inserted numerous earmarks into spending bills which directly benefited VECO Corporation. Coincidence? I think not.
All this is bad enough, but to add insult to injury, Congressman Young once had the gall to fraudulently assert in a radio ad that he had been given a "Hero of the Taxpayers" award from the organization Taxpayers for Common Sense. This came as something of a shock to Taxpayers for Common Sense, which had done no such thing and, indeed, has constantly lambasted Congressman Young for his pork barrel spending.
Congressman Young won the 2008 Republican primary by barely 300 votes, and much of the Republican establishment in Alaksa has turned against him. He is clearly vulnerable in the upcoming primary. His challenger for the Republican nomination, Sheldon Fisher, seems like a solid candidate who, refreshingly, is highlighting the national debt as a serious issue. At this point, anyone would be better than Young, who is basically a crook and exactly the kind of office-holder Jefferson would most despise. Alaska voters would do well to vote for Fisher in order to get Young kicked out of office, thereby striking a blow against corruption and for the restoration of fiscal sanity in the House of Representatives.