Don Young’s Literal Power Grab

Don Young Twist

Rep. Don Young (R-AK) Twists Aide Justin Smentek’s Arm


by Nick Tomboulides

Long-term incumbents sure do crazy things once they know they’re invincible at the ballot box. Congressman Don Young, Alaska’s sole representative since 1973 and only the state’s fourth ever, recently gave the term “power grab” an entirely new meaning. When Young tried to enter a GOP conference meeting late and through a side door last week, staffer Justin Smentek stood in his path because he had been told to prevent exactly that from happening.

But the 41-year career politician wouldn’t take no for an answer. He angrily grabbed Smentek’s arm and twisted it up toward the young staffer’s head, in a move more appropriate for jiu-jitsu than democracy. With Smentek shocked, in pain and relenting, Young casually strode into the meeting without saying a word.

Young later apologized, but this certainly isn’t the first time he has acted inappropriately. Last year, he referred to Latinos using a racial slur . He has been named one of CREW’s Most Corrupt Members of Congress four times, and was even investigated by the FBI for using campaign money to fund his luxurious lifestyle.

While term limits don’t  prevent this kind of impropriety, they do give citizens the ability to address and correct the problem — an opportunity we lack today. By creating an atmosphere of frequent turnover and competitive, open-seat elections, term limits let voters hold their representatives accountable. The people of Alaska wouldn’t be forced to make the false choice between losing Don Young’s misbehavior and losing his influence in Washington; they’d be free to vote (or term limit) him out and remain well-represented.

If you’re sick of congressmen like Young running roughshod over every principle of public service, Click Here to sign our petition for term limits now.

Nick Tomboulides is the Executive Director of U.S. Term Limits