By KEVIN DIAZ
April 07, 2007
Young had boosted the businessman's trucking company by helping pass new federal truck-hauling rules.
Young has maintained a public silence on the case, though his top aide said this week that Young does not recall ever meeting Dennis Troha, the apparent target of the probe.
Two other congressmen involved in the legislation, Republican Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Democrat Jim Oberstar of Minnesota, have purged the money they got from Troha and his associates. Young's chief of staff, Mike Anderson, said Young is "considering" doing the same.
While Young's office has denied any link to the investigation, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Milwaukee declined to say whether Young is "in or out as a subject."
Family members and others associated with Troha were among Young's top campaign contributors in his 2006 re-election, though their money was a tiny fraction of the $1.9 million that filled his campaign coffers.
Anderson said it is not unusual for people with an interest in federal legislation to make campaign contributions to key committee members like Young.
"There is no personal connection," Anderson said. "Mr. Young wouldn't know Dennis Troha if Mr. Troha walked in and hit him with a bat."
Young, facing criticism from Alaska Democrats, has had Anderson review the legislative history that led to Congress passing a major highway bill in 2005 that included provisions Troha sought. They allow truckers to haul as many as four semi-trailer truck cabs at once.
Federal prosecutors in Milwaukee say they are looking into a deal whereby Troha will be paid by his former trucking company, JHT Holdings, until 2010 as a result of congressional passage of the trucking provisions, which help the firm.
In a separate case, Troha was indicted last month on charges of using family members to illegally funnel more than $100,000 in campaign contributions to Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle and the state's Democratic Party. The federal indictment alleges that Troha was trying to win approval for a casino in his hometown of Kenosha, Wis.
Anderson said Young had no idea Troha stood to gain from the congressional provision allowing longer "saddlemount" truck combinations.
Troha and members of his family donated $14,000 to Young in 2005, the year Congress passed the highway spending bill increasing maximum multi-truck combinations from 75 feet to 97 feet. Such a change lowers costs for trucking companies.
In all, Troha and his associates have given Young's campaign about $20,000 since 2003, according to federal campaign records.
Young, as chairman of the Transportation Committee, was instrumental in attaching the trucking rules in the highway bill, as was Oberstar, then the ranking Democrat on the panel. Oberstar received more than $20,000 in campaign contributions from people associated with Troha.
Ryan, who urged Young and Oberstar to support the trucking provisions, received $58,000 in contributions from Troha, his family members and his associates.
Ryan has denied any wrongdoing and said he will donate the Troha money to the Boys & Girls Club. Oberstar has said he will give the money he got to the federal treasury.
Anderson did not say how Young might dispense with the Troha money, if at all. But Anderson said none of the contributions was linked to Young's support for the longer truck limits. Anderson also denied that Young is linked to the federal probe, which focuses on Troha's financial dealings in Wisconsin.
A federal prosecutor in Milwaukee, however, said she could not say whether the investigation extends to Troha's contributions to Young or other members of Congress.
"I'm not going to confirm or deny that he is or is not a subject," said Michelle Jacobs, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic in Wisconsin. "What we've put out on this is that we are continuing the investigation into the contributions and transactions involving Paul Ryan, and that's as far as we're going to go right now."
Distributed to subscribers for publication by
Scripps-McClatchy Western Service, http://www.scrippsnews.com
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