Sunday, March 14, 2010

Charlie Justice Says Bill Young Milked the STAR Center for $145,000 in Campaign Cash

Congressman Bill Young has put amendments in the federal budget totaling $33 million for tenants of the STAR Center and has received $145,000 in campaign contributions from tenants there, according to Charlie Justice.

“If you made a movie about Bill Young’s abuse of the STAR Center it wouldn’t win an Oscar because it’s just unbelievable,” Justice said. “Bill Young is using the STAR Center as a cash cow for his campaign.”

Justice’s release of the information today is the fifth installment in his “ten point indictment” of Young’s abuse of power. Before today’s release, Justice criticized Young for sending $13.5 million to New York Harbor for a floating museum and pointed out that Young-backed earmarks have been investigated by law enforcement officials on four separate occasions. Three of those investigations are still open. Justice also revealed that Young has placed amendments on the budget to the tune of $118 million that directly benefited his sons, daughter-in-law and former members of his staff. Young also spent $30,000 of his campaign cash for a luxury car for himself.

One of the tenants of the STAR Center, Raytheon, accounted for approximately $100,000 in contributions, Justice said.

Raytheon is at the center of a battle that pits Justice and his constituents against Young and the defense contractor. Last week, Justice, a state senator, sent a letter to Governor Charlie Crist and other state officials calling for immediate action to clean up a dangerous industrial plume affecting his constituents. The latest remedial action proposal that came from Raytheon suggested that the cleanup of the site won’t be complete for 78 years.

In 1991, the Department of Environmental Protection found the toxic plume to be affecting neighborhoods in Justice’s St. Petersburg district. However, residents were not made aware of the contamination until 2008, seventeen years later. Over the past seventeen years, the dangerous chemicals have migrated 200 acres, affecting two apartment complexes, three neighborhoods, community parks, schools and the waters of Tampa Bay.

“While the people of St. Petersburg wait for action from Raytheon, Congressman Bill Young took $100,000 in campaign contributions from the company and their lobbyists. No wonder the cleanup is being slow walked,” Justice said.

In 1995 the Department of Energy sold its Largo, FL facility to Pinellas County for redevelopment. The county was so pleased with the facility’s success that in 2001 they renamed it in part after Rep. Young. He touts the success of the STAR Center as an example of his ability to bring jobs to Pinellas County. (STAR Center website, Congressman Bill Young brochure)

$145,000 to Young from STAR Center Tenants and their Lobbyists

“Just when it starts to look as though Bill Young is doing something solely to benefit his community – like using his influence over the already-stretched defense budget to direct tens of millions to his district – the other shoe drops,” Justice said. “Each of the seven tenants that received earmarks through Rep. Young’s efforts returned the favor by kicking in for his re-election campaign.”

Since 2006, Young has received $145,000 in contributions from the tenants of the STAR Center and their lobbyists. Young, leaving no stone unturned in his thirst for campaign cash, even received a donation from the facility’s director.

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