Fact Checker: Analyzing Alyse Galvin’s ‘It’s nice to be Don Young’ campaign ad

Fact Checker reviews truthfulness and accuracy in political campaign ads.
Fact Checker is reviewing the truthfulness and accuracy of campaign ads.
Fact Checker is reviewing the truthfulness and accuracy of campaign ads.(Colin Lamar / KTUU | Colin Lamar / KTUU)
Published: Oct. 26, 2020 at 6:55 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alyse Galvin is in her second attempt to unseat Alaska’s longtime congressman, Don Young. In the negative campaign ad “It’s Nice to be Don Young,” the Alyse for Alaska campaign reminds Alaskans that there were times when dark clouds hung over Young’s career.

The ad opens by stating, “It’s nice to be Don Young. He’s taken over $100,000 in trips, paid for by special interests, to places like Spain, Germany, Africa.”

While this is rated true, Fact Checker notes it represents data compiled from more than one source.

LegiStorm is an online website that tracks congressional, privately funded travel. It shows that Young took 21 trips between 2000 and 2005 for $83,707. Three international trips are among those Young took. According to records, destinations Spain and Germany were part of a trip partially funded by BP for European fuel cell development.

According to a disclosure form, the trip to Africa is listed as a fact-finding mission paid by Alaska Natural Gas to Liquids.

Galvin arrives at the “over $100,000 in trips” claim by including more than $28,000 in improperly paid-for trips uncovered by House ethics report in 2014.

John Dowd, Young’s attorney at the time, said in 2014 that he felt “the committee correctly found that there was no intentional or willful or corrupt behavior,” calling the trips “oversights.”

The disclosed privately-funded congressional trips, coupled with those included in the House ethics report, total more than $111,000.

After a rebuke by the House ethics committee, Dowd said that Young had, since 2007, “run quite a tight ship,” and said Young had been working to correct mistakes he’d made.

In its next claim, Galvin’s ad brings up Operation Polar Pen, a political corruption probe, stating, “... until he was caught by the FBI in a bribery investigation.”

Fact Checker gives this claim two ratings: true and somewhat misleading, because to some, the phrase “caught by the FBI” may imply Young did something criminal. While Young was investigated during the FBI’s look at corruption and bribery in Alaska politics, and that Young is referenced as “U.S. Representative A” in an admission made by a convicted defendant in that probe, it’s important to note Young was never charged with a crime.

In its closing barb, the Galvin ad underscores how those various investigations ultimately diminished Young’s influence, stating “he was stripped of his leadership positions.”

Fact Checker rates that as true.

In December 2008, Young stepped down from his role as the ranking member of the natural resources committee, saying at the time that the decision was “for the good of the Republican party.”

Young’s resignation from the committee post came shortly before action to remove him.

At the time, Young said he was “confident that the cloud that hangs over me will eventually clear as I know I have done nothing wrong.”

Fact Checker will continue to review political ads leading up to the election.

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