Alaska editorial: Young should answer questions about aide

Posted: Monday, May 07, 2007

This editorial appeared in the Anchorage Daily News:

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The scandal at Rep. Don Young's House Transportation Committee has crept closer to his feet, but he continues to stonewall questions about his role in it.

Was he responsible for hiring and supervising Mark Zachares, the recently convicted aide who traded favors with lobbyist Jack Abramoff?

Yes, says Frank LoBiondo, a Republican congressman from New Jersey. LoBiondo chaired the House Transportation Committee's subcommittee on Coast Guard and maritime issues. Zachares worked for that subcommittee, but LoBiondo's office says Young controlled the staff.

"Congressman Don Young, who was chair of the full House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee during that time, was solely in charge of the hiring, firing and daily management of staff, including Mark Zachares," LoBiondo's spokesman Jason Galanes told Roll Call, a trade publication covering Congress.

Galanes went on: "Despite being a subcommittee chair, Congressman LoBiondo had no input in the selection or management of staff members."

Perhaps LoBiondo is just trying to distance himself from the growing scandal by blaming Young for Zachares' hiring. If that's the case, though, it shouldn't be hard for the Alaska congressman to explain exactly who did what.

Still, Young is saying nothing about the scandal. He says nothing, even though a fellow Republican colleague says Young put Zachares in position to do his corrupt business.

Young's silence speaks volumes. It says he doesn't have to be accountable to Alaskans for the scandal at his committee. It says he views Alaskans with contempt.

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