ANCHORAGE - Old billing records show ties between convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and U.S. Rep. Don Young, a newspaper reported Sunday.
The Anchorage Daily News said in Sunday editions that records from two of Abramoff's firms show that his team of lobbyists had more than 120 contacts with Young's personal and committee staffs - including at least 10 with the Alaska Republican himself - from January 1996 to December 2001.
According to the Daily News, the available records cover one Abramoff client, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
The commonwealth is a U.S. territory in the Pacific that Young oversaw when he chaired the House Resources Committee from 1995 to 2001.
Mike Anderson, Young's campaign spokesman and chief of staff, told The Associated Press on Sunday that bringing up the documents was "regurgitation of old news" that first emerged in 2005.
Anderson shrugged off the mention of contacts linking Young and Abramoff.
"Well that's what lobbyists are supposed to do for their clients," he said.
The records show that among the concerns of Abramoff and fellow lobbyists at the time was a bill introduced by then Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, to reform labor and immigration practices feeding the island's Chinese-owned sweatshops. Murkowski's bill passed the Senate unanimously in 2000, but Young stopped it in his committee, refusing to hold a hearing.
Young has denied taking any action as a favor to Abramoff, who is now in a federal prison.
"Abramoff is, and has been, inconsequential to my work in Congress," Young wrote in 2006 in response to a Daily News editorial tying him to the lobbyist. "I have never had any personal or professional relationship with Abramoff."
But a private memo written by Abramoff to the governor of the Mariana Islands, expressing concern that Young was being forced by term limits to give up his Resources chairmanship in 2001, according to the Daily News.
"The loss of Chairman Young's authority cannot easily be measured - or replaced," Abramoff wrote on Jan. 4, 2001, in crediting Young with blocking reform legislation. "We have lost major institutional memory and friendship."
Anderson declined to say in interviews with the Daily News and the AP whether some portion of the $1.1 million the campaign has spent on legal fees over the last year relate to the ongoing FBI investigation of the Abramoff affair. The case has led to 13 convictions of lobbyists, aides, a former congressman and two former administration officials.
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