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C.W. Bill Young — Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense

Florida Republican skilled at collecting earmarks

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C.W. Bill Young is the most senior Republican serving in the U.S. House and a fixture in Florida politics. First elected in 1970, he represents Florida’s 10th district and the coastal city of St. Petersburg on the Gulf of Mexico.

Young is the likely pick to head the powerful House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, the panel that prepared a $636 billion annual funding bill for the Pentagon in fiscal 2010. He currently serves as the top Republican on the subcommittee, and obtained $140.5 million in earmarks in 2010, more than any other congressman, mostly for defense contractors.

Young, a skilled craftsman in pork barrel politics, obtained about $475 million in earmarks over the past three years, mostly funneling money to defense contracting firms that are also among his top donors. An advocate for veterans’ issues, Young has worked to improve the quality of life for men and women in the military, and was instrumental in bringing the Bay Pines Veterans Medical Center to St. Petersburg.

When Republicans last controlled the chamber, Young served as chairman of the entire House Appropriations Committee for six years. In 2004, his last year on the job, he oversaw an omnibus appropriations bill that passed with $388 billion in earmarks, including $180 million for his Florida district.

Last year, the Office of Congressional Ethics investigated Young in a probe involving seven members of the defense appropriations subcommittee. A Center for Public Integrity report, The Murtha Method, found that Young requested earmarks for companies that hired three of his former staffers as lobbyists. The same companies, along with senior executive staff, contributed about $145,000 to Young’s campaign that same year. The ethics office earlier this year announced it dropped the investigation.

Young announced his re-election campaign in February 2010, silencing rumors of a possible retirement. Young has touted his opposition to government spending, including legislation on the bank bailout and health care reform. He expressed concern over “the direction the present leadership is taking the country,” and believes the nation is headed toward bankruptcy.

Top PAC contributors

  • Raytheon Co., a defense contractor — at least $32,500
  • Textron, a defense contractor — at least $30,000.
  • General Dynamics, a defense contractor — at least $25,000
  • Lockheed Martin, a defense contractor — at least $25,000
  • American Dental Association, a professional group — at least $20,000
  • Boeing, a defense contractor — at least $20,000.
  • DRS Technologies, a defense contractor — at least $20,000
  • Honeywell International, a defense contractor — at least $20,000
  • Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), a defense contractor — at least $20,000
  • PACs gave at least $700,000 to Young’s campaign account and his Victory leadership PAC

Revolving door

  • Bryan Blom, a former legislative assistant, has been director of government relations at lobbying firm Van Scoyoc Associates since 2008
  • Douglas M. Gregory, Young’s chief of staff and professional staff assistant for the House Appropriations Committee (1994-2007), has been vice president at lobbying firm Van Scoyoc Associates since 2007
  • Brent Jaquet, a former senior appropriations adviser, has been senior vice president for lobbying firm Cavarocchi Rusico Dennis Associates since 2006
  • Michael W. Adcock, a former legislative assistant, joined lobbying firm Van Scoyoc Associates in 1996 and is now vice president of it
  • David Jolly, former district director for Young, has been a vice president at lobbying firm Van Scoyoc Associates since 2007

Earmarks

  • Between 2008 and 2010, Young obtained over $475 million in earmarks, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense
  • In 2010, he obtained about $140.5 million in earmarks, more than any other congressman, including funds for top donors SAIC, DRS Technology, and Raytheon
  • Obtained $21 million for the MacDill Air Force Base in 2010

Stimulus letters

  • Young voted against the 2009 stimulus bill
  • He sent letters asking the Transportation Department for stimulus-funded grants to ease traffic congestion and to replace two bridges in his district
  • In a letter to the Department of Commerce, Young requested stimulus funding to expand computers at a local library

Ethical issues

  • The Center’s The Murtha Method investigation found three former aides to Young became lobbyists for defense contractors who received a total of $21.8 million in earmarks from Young. Young received at least $145,291 in campaign contributions from those defense contractors and lobbyists. Young did not respond to a request for comment for the story. The Office of Congressional Ethics investigated Young, along with six other members of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, but the House Ethics Committee “found no evidence that Members or their official staff considered campaign contributions as a factor when requesting earmarks,” and announced it had dropped its probe earlier this year
  • The St. Petersburg Times reported in 2008 that Young directed almost $45 million to defense contractor Science Applications International Corp. after it hired his 20-year-old son. Young also shepherded $28 million over nine years to the National Forensic Science Technology Center, where his other son worked for about a year. Young told the newspaper he “had nothing to do with Pat going to work with SAIC, and I had nothing to do with Billy getting his job [at National Forensic Science Technology Center]”
  • Citizens for Ethics in Washington (CREW) said Young’s daughter-in-law, Cindy, is a registered lobbyist and in 2005 represented two clients who each received $1 million in defense earmarks. Though the group notes it is legal for the close relatives of members to lobby, CREW argues “the unique access offered to these lobbyists creates a situation ripe for abuse”
  • Young’s opponent in the 2010 election, Charlie Justice, accused him of using campaign money to pay for a luxury vehicle. PolitiFact Florida declared the allegation “true” after finding that Young pays $799 per month to lease a Lincoln Navigator

Campaign promises

  • Young, in a June op-ed published by Politico criticized proposed defense budget cuts backed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a Republican holdover from George W. Bush’s cabinet. “Having served on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense for 30 years, I know the realities that surround the budget and allocation processes. Money does not grow on trees — despite Congress’s recent spending spree. However, inadequate defense budgets should not be the price paid for the failure to rein in spending,” Young wrote