The Justice Department cannot categorically keep sealed its criminal investigation files on Congressman Don Young, according to a federal judge in Washington, DC. U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler ruled Tuesday that the Justice Department was in the wrong when it refused to turn over any of its files to an anti-corruption watchdog group.
Tuesday’s decision does not mean the documents and information on Young will definitely be released. Instead the Justice Department must create an index of all its material about the Congressman within 60 days.
Then the public interest group CREW, or Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, will be able to mount an argument to release the documents.
CREW had filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents related to the Justice Department’s investigation of Young. It centered around an earmark he inserted into a highway bill after it had already passed Congress. The Coconut Road earmark benefitted one of Young’s campaign donors.
In 2008 the U.S. Senate voted to ask the Justice Department to look into the matter.
No charges were ever brought against Young, and the Justice Department had argued the files should categorically be kept under wraps for his privacy. However Judge Kessler disagreed.