Protesters turn up at Don Young fundraiser

About 70 citizens speak out against congressional delegation

Posted: Friday, August 10, 2007

ANCHORAGE - Outside Don Young's annual pig roast fundraiser, a raucous crowd of all ages and political persuasions taunted the guests with shouts of "oink, oink," waved signs against corruption and big money in politics, and generally protested anything Young favored.

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It was a party inside the fence, where Wednesday more than 200 guests drank beer and bottled water and dined on pork under white tents. They were asked to donate up to $1,000 each for U.S. Rep. Young's re-election campaign.

And it was a party outside, where about 70 protesters showed up for a remarkable demonstration not only against Young at his signature fundraising event, but also against U.S. Sens. Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski, who were special guests.

The event, talked about on talk radio and the Internet for days, attracted all kinds.

"Restore habeas corpus!" one man shouted.

Another, a Minneapolis chef and performance artist who goes by Mero Cocinero Karimi, was there shaking a wooden spoon at arriving donors.

"I heard they were roasting a pig in celebration of corruption," he said, dressed in a chef's hat and white jacket. "A pig is paying for this with his life! They never asked the pig's permission!"

"You are now entering the gates of hell," retired salmon fisherman John Farleigh yelled, a third-generation Alaskan and one of the protest organizers, at guests as they walked down the long driveway to the Turnagain home of former Gov. Bill Sheffield. The party inside was off-limits to news reporters.

Farleigh said his discontent has been boiling up for some time.

"They get caught in something untoward, and nothing happens to them, and so they think they are untouchable," he said.

Around the back, protesters shouted through the fence at donors as they dined.

"The secret sauce is blood and oil, topped with shredded Constitution!" sometime political candidate Thomas Higgins bellowed.

At one point, conservative talk show host Eddie Burke faced off against political consultant Art Hackney, who was one of a few guests who stopped to talk to reporters.

"I find this outrageous," Hackney said. "To me, the story is these guys who are stirring this up. Go look into them, because they have a helluva worse history than the people serving Alaska in the United States Congress."

As he spoke, the crowd closed in.

"Shame, shame, shame!" they roared at Hackney.

"Two wrongs make a right?" one man asked.

Alaska's congressional delegation "built Alaska," Hackney said.

"Take Alaska back!" people in the crowd began shouting.

Hackney said that Burke and two others who have been pushing hard to crack down on politicians - Ray Metcalfe and former U.S. Attorney Wev Shea - are the ones who are unethical.

"I'm not being investigated by the FBI," Burke shot back. "Are you?"

Burke was within inches of Hackney's face until a Young aide, Steve Hansen, guided Hackney away.

Among those spotted walking into the fundraiser were Diane Kaplan, president of the Rasmuson Foundation, and former legislator and oil industry lobbyist Mark Hanley.

High-powered Washington lobbyist Jack Ferguson, who has close ties to Young, also came. His clients have included Alaska Airlines, Arctic Power, trucking companies and cruise lines. Another D.C. lobbyist at the event was Rick Alcalde, a frequent contributor to Young who lobbied him on national transportation projects.

When Alaska Republican Party chairman Randy Ruedrich arrived, someone shouted, "Talk about ethically challenged!" Ruedrich was forced to step down from his job as head of the state's oil and gas commission amid allegations he misused his office for political purposes.

The location at Sheffield's home was a change from recent years, when the event was held at the home of former VECO Corp. chairman Bill Allen. Allen has pleaded guilty to bribing four former state lawmakers. Young and Stevens both are under federal investigation for their ties to VECO.

Steve Dougherty, Young's campaign manager, said they cooked an entire pig this year, too. It just wasn't in one piece, as was the tradition when Allen hosted the event.

By roughly 7:30 p.m., Sens. Stevens and Murkowski had already driven out of Sheffield's driveway to jeers from the remaining crowd outside. Then Young left too, smiling, riding in the back of a silver Chrysler sedan.

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