GOP Sen. Coburn at the Ten Commandments monument dedication in Coalgate, OK, where - according to Sen. Coburn, "Lesbianism is so rampant in some of the schools that they'll only let one girl go to the bathroom. Now think about it."
Looney GOP U.S. Senator Tom Coburn has had it in for Alaska politicians before. Coburn's attempted amendment to the 2006 U.S. Congressional Transportation Bill, which sought to take GOP U.S. Senator Ted Stevens' "bridge to nowhere" money from the Ketchikan and Knik Arm bridge projects and use the funds to rebuild Louisiana's "Twin Spans" bridge, which had been heavily damaged in Hurricane Katrina, brought out Sen. Stevens' famous resignation tantrum.
But now, the wacky, Okie Dr. No from Muskogee has taken on another D.C. politician from his own side of the aisle: GOP U.S. Representative Don Young. That's right, the member of the U.S. House who, last summer, threatened to kill anyone who bites him.
Rep. Don Young appears to have violated the U.S. Constitution by illegally inserting an earmark into the 2005 Congressional Transportation Bill, favoring a wealthy Florida real estate developer, after the legislation had been passed by both houses of Congress. Up until today the only political figure to openly question the legality of Young's violation and seek a Congressional investigation, has been Diane Benson, the maverick activist Democrat who gave Young a fright in 2006 by coming closer to beating him than any candidate had since 1992.
In September, Benson called upon Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio, Committee Chairwoman, and Representative Doc Hastings of Washington state as members of the office of the Committee on Standards to investigate the illegal substitution. Shortly afterward, Taxpayers for Common Sense filed a similar complaint against Young.
We now know that around that time, Young was spending more money than OJ Simpson on attorney fees, to the point that he was beginning to deplete his hefty campaign chest. Young was also the all-time top recipient of campaign funds from the now-disgraced and extinct criminal enterprise and GOP slush fund cutout, oilfield service company, Veco.
What Sen. Coburn has done today is to "call for the creation of a select committee comprised of both representatives and senators to investigate the miraculous change to the 2005 transportation bill." Here's his entire letter:
December 18, 2007
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
United States Senate
361-A Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator McConnell:
I write to inform you that I will object to unanimous passage of any bill providing technical corrections of the 2005 highway bill if that bill does not require a full and open investigation of the events leading up to the unauthorized revision of congressionally passed legislation during the enrollment process.
While my understanding is that the latest version of the technical corrections bill restores the original congressional intent of the “Coconut Road” provision, those who perverted and distorted the explicit will of the U.S. Congress must also be held to account. A full investigation into this matter is necessary to ensure that this does not happen again in the future.
After both Houses of Congress approved passage of the conference report on H.R. 3 (SAFETEA-LU) in the 109th Congress, a major substantive change was secretly made to the legislation during the enrollment process. Specifically, item number 462 of section 1934 of the bill was secretly changed from “Widening and Improvements for I-75 in Collier and Lee County” to “Coconut Rd. interchange I-75/Lee County[.]”
H.R. 3 (SAFETEA-LU) – Conference Report as Approved by Congress
H.R. 3 (SAFETEA-LU) – Enrolled Version
As you well know, substantive changes during the enrollment process can only be made via a concurrent resolution, which must be agreed to by both the House and Senate. According to the Congressional Research Service, only one concurrent resolution (H.Con.Res. 226) regarding the 2005 highway bill was passed by the 109th Congress, and the resolution was “silent on any other specific changes, including section 1934[.]”
Because secret, improper, and unauthorized changes to congressionally passed legislation call into question the integrity of our entire Constitutional and legislative process, I believe a full and open investigation into this matter is necessary to restore the integrity of both the U.S. Congress and the Constitution.
I thank you for protecting my rights as a U.S. Senator and I look forward to working with you to create a select committee, comprised of Members of both the House and Senate, to investigate the events that led up to the unauthorized change and to provide a full accounting of the matter to the American public.
Tom Coburn, M.D.
United States Senator
An interesting aspect of the development of this story has been the lack of statements about this specific issue by either Jake Metcalfe or by Ethan Berkowitz, Diane Benson's opponents for the Democratic Party nomination to run against Young or another GOP candidate come November.
One thing for sure, though, is that the nexus of Coburn, Young and Stevens promises some heavyweight tantrums for YouTube fodder very soon. Grab your popcorn, folks.
Update: Josh Marshall's wonderful Coconut Road Earmark Primer!