On the very heels of the GOP pledging to reach out to hispanics and repair the damage of the last election after an array of anti-women and anti-hispanic comments, Alaska Rep. Don Young stepped forward to show that such a face lift is not likely to occur with party leaders speaking from the eighteenth century. Young has long been a liability for the GOP with a long line of allegations of unethical and corrupt practices.
The 79-year-old Young is the second-most senior Republican in the House. He insisted that he “meant no disrespect” in referring to the workers on his father’s farm in central California as “wetbacks.” It appears that he was entirely unaware that the term was derogatory.
He made the comments on the radio station KRBD in Ketchikan, Alaska, in observing that “we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes . . . It takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine.” It seems doubtful that this is the first time Young called such workers “wetbacks,” which means that he has likely used the expression previously without anyone objecting or informing him that it is viewed as an insulting and derogatory term.
Young is a leading anti-environmental legislator who has long been condemned for his close connections to lobbyists and industry groups. His latest allegations of misconduct has him under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for the alleged failure to report gifts on his annual disclosure forms, misuse of campaign funds and false statements to federal officials. He was recently also placed under investigation by the Justice Department over other gifts that he allegedly accepted in return for political patronage.
Young was also the chair of the committee that approved the “bridges to nowhere,” two proposed Alaska construction projects costing hundreds of millions that became the very symbol of congressional waste.
What is remarkable is that Young just treated his continual role as the subject of corruption charges as his unique signature as a public servant. Indeed, complaining about such corruption in Don Young is like complaining about the weather: “I’ve been under a cloud all my life. It’s sort of like living in Juneau. It rains on you all the time. You don’t even notice it.”
Despite years of congressional excess and self-dealing, the GOP has continued to support Don Young who is preparing for yet another run for office. His service to lobbyists in Washington results in massive campaign contributions that keep him as one of the principal “rainmakers” of waste and corporate windfalls in Congress. However, remember his wise words, complaining about Don Young or the weather is useless. He is just part of the permanent front of corruption that hangs over the Capitol.