Alaska Congressman Don Young was interviewed on May 27, 2009 by Charles Fedullo and Paul McCarthy in the Congressman's office in Anchorage, Alaska. In this interview, Congressman Young talks about meeting Senator Ted Stevens, how they became friends, their working relationship, key Alaska issues Stevens worked on, and Stevens temper, successes and tragedies. Congressman Young provides a general assessment of Senator Stevens’ contributions and legacy.
Digital Asset Information
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Meeting Senator Ted Stevens
Development of a relationship with Senator Stevens
Becoming friends with Senator Stevens
Working together as team to serve Alaskans in Congress
Teamwork strategy on passage of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline legislation
Passing fishing and the 200-mile limit and Economic Development Zone legislation
How well Senator Stevens shared credit for legislative successes
Senator Stevens' service to Alaskans
Corruption trial of Senator Stevens
Learning from and helping each other
Key legislative issues: fisheries
Key legislative issues: 8a contracts and Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA)
Ted Stevens being selected as senator
Senator Stevens' political desires
Senator Stevens' temper
Senator Stevens' reaction to the corruption indictment and trial
Building military presence in Alaska
Alaska's shift from a democrat to a republican state
Relationship of Alaskan politics with the national Republican party
Senator Stevens' relationship with Senator Frank Murkowski and Senator Mike Gravel
Senator Stevens' personal and professional tragedies
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CHARLES FEDULLO: The name of the narrator is Congressman Don Young. Name of the interviewers are Paul McCarthy, Charles Fedullo.
Date of the interview is May 27th. Place of the interview, Anchorage, Alaska, Congressman Young's office.
Side one, tape one. Oral history of Alaska, Senator Ted Stevens.
So some of these questions, when we start, obviously, we're going to know the answer to, but want your -- want your opinion on them.
How did you meet Senator Stevens and how did your relationship with him develop as you two were colleagues in the Senate?
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: Well, first, let me say that I met Senator Stevens when he was a prosecutor.
And he was in Fairbanks, I was in Fort Yukon, and I was a school teacher and he was the -- the prosecutor in Fairbanks.
And then he decided to run for public office.
And the interesting thing is because of my relationship with Alaska Natives, my wife being Native, we --
we took Mr. Stevens around when he was running for the United States Senate.
People forget he ran for the Senate twice, and he was appointed.
The amazing thing to me was that every time I'd take him to a village, I'd introduce him, and be dead silence.
And they would sometimes say after the silence, "We know him. He put us in jail."
He was a very good prosecutor. PAUL McCARTHY: Yeah, right.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: So then through that, though, a relationship developed, and in '66 I ran for the State House,
and he -- he ran for the State House in Alaska -- I mean, in Anchorage, for Juneau, and we both won in '66, along with Wally Hickel.
And he became my majority leader in the -- in the House, and I became Chairman of -- of the Commerce Committee, which I had little knowledge of.
But he also had a family similar ages to my daughters,
and we exchanged baby sitting duties for the Senator and Ann and Lu and myself and my two daughters, Joni and sister.
And so that's where the relation developed.
And, of course, then, he was the State Majority Leader in the State House,
and then in 1968, he -- I believe he ran again that year for the United States Senate and -- and was defeated.
And remember, that was the year, if I'm not mistaken, I may be wrong on my dates, but there was a -- his opponent was Elmer Rasmuson.
PAUL McCARTHY: Right. You're right.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: And the star of the show at that time was Mike Gravel running against Ernest Gruening.
PAUL McCARTHY: Right.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: And he ran as a hawk, that's Mike Gravel, and he beat Ernest Gruening,
and Elmer Rasmuson won over Ted for the nomination.
And it was -- it was Barack Obama versus John McCain, if you see the comparison.
PAUL McCARTHY:: Right.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: And if Ted had won that nomination, he would have probably won the seat over Mike Gravel.
This is all history but, you know, it's what happened.
Well, again -- and then when Mr. Bartlett, Senator Bartlett, was elected, I don't know which year, but when he died,
then it's common history where the nomination occurred that the Senator in that time, House member Ted Stevens
was appointed by Wally Hickel to take Ern -- Bartlett's place.
But my relationship to the Senator, of course, was created because of again the prosecutor and being the majority leader and our personal relationship between Ann and Ted.
That's where I first met him.
CHARLES FEDULLO: What did you think of him personally, professionally, when you first met him and how it developed?
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: Well, this is ironic. He and I and Morris Thompson,
Don Wright, we were all in the Legislature.
Morris was not a legislator, he had been appointed for Commissioner of Local Affairs by Wally Hickel, and we're all -- we were all sort of a close knit group.
Everybody went to Juneau and stayed in those days, we didn't travel back and forth.
And Ted was -- is quite diminished in size, I'm quite large, and regardless of that, we became very close friends.
And I was excited about him being appointed to the Senator,
and down the line, if I can, what -- sort of describing this,
he is -- he had to run three times before he was elected.
I believe three times before he was elected, or two times, I don't know which one it was, because Bartlett had just been elected, so he had to run the next election, and then the election after that.
So he had -- and he had some -- he said, I need somebody to cover my backside
because Mark -- Nick Begich was the Congressman by then, 1970 he was elected.
And Ted came up in '72, and he asked me to run.
Fly into Fairbanks to cover his backside; and I said, "I'm not interested in running for the United States Congress."
And he said, "I need somebody to keep Nick busy."
Nobody else wanted to run against Nick because of his popularity. He was quite popular.
But Cliff Groh, our dear friend, didn't want to run; Terry Miller didn't want to run; Clyde Lewis didn't want to run; no one wanted to run.
I didn't want to run.
We got to the -- I wasn't there, but I was in Juneau and I was very unhappy being the Senator because I got elected to the Senate at that time.
And my wife, in fact, I came home one night and I was not happy with the Senate and she says, "We're getting out of this job."
And I said, "I've never quit anything in my life." And he says -- she says, "We will run for Congress, we'll never win."
And that planted a seed because about that time, they had the convention in Mount McKinley,
the Republican Convention, and they couldn't find anybody to run.
So the party called me.
Apparently the Senator was Shirley Woodrow, which was campaign manager, called me and asked me if I would be interested in running.
And I said, "I am really not interested, but my wife suggested I do because I'm not happy being in the United States -- I mean, being a state Senator."
And she said, "Well, we'll commit to you" -- and this is -- you know, one thing -- "We'll commit to you the full support of the Republican Party and $25,000."
That's -- if you think about that, that's what races -- we didn't spend any money hardly.
And so I announced after talking to Ron Reddick, who was also a State Senator with me, he said, "If you run, don't borrow a nickel. They will ask you to borrow your own money. Make them finance the campaign."
So I announced that I would run, and I filed.
So to protect Ted's backside against Nick being involved, he had to worry about it.
Now, the way it worked out is I did a pretty good job.
And I could not have beaten Nick, but my numbers started going up because of Richard Nixon.
This was a Nixon state.
On -- as my numbers came up, I got a call from Nick, he said, "I don't know what you're doing, I have to beat you by more than 45 55 -- 55 45,
or I can't run for the United States Senate."
He was going to run against Gravel because Gravel, at that time, had already stepped in it three or four times and he would have beat Gravel.
And that's when he got on the airplane, went to Fairbanks, came down here to Juneau -- I mean, to Anchorage,
and flew to Juneau in a Cessna 310, and we never found him.
Apparently it's the largest search in history performed for him.
We found 14 wrecked airplanes, and of that, 7 were people in them.
Bones. So it was very intense.
We never found him. And he still beat me.
And then I ran, of course, in '73, March of 7th, and got elected in a special election.
And so anyway, that's where I did the job for Ted, my numbers were going up, kept Nick busy,
and Nick couldn't go after Ted.
PAUL MCCARTHY: Okay.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: That was the whole idea.
CHARLES FEDULLO: How did you two work together? Then you are both in Congress by the late '60s, early '70s.
How did you work together?
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: Well, this was an interesting thing because we probably had the best team and no one really realized it.
And this is the thing you're going to find out in the -- in the future.
He, through his relationship with Bob Byrd in Appropriations,
and his friendship with Dan Inouye rose very rapidly even when he was in the minority,
within the, I call, the inner circle of the Appropriations Committee, and --
and the Commerce Committee, which is very good.
And he was able to do things for the state that I was unable to do on my side because my agenda, and we decided this, I was in Resources and Transportation,
he was in Commerce and Appropriations covering all bases of the -- of the deal. He also was the Armed Services Subcommittee Chairman.
And so he would get things in. We worked together in the sense he would tell me, "I'm going to get this in, can you help me keep it in on the House side?"
Now, I never got credit for that, but nothing occurred -- and he gave me credit for it.
Nothing occurred in the -- in the Senate for the State of Alaska that I didn't also have to do in the House. PAUL MCCARTHY: Right.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: So it was a team effort. And he often said in speeches I --
I have never let the state or him down,
and anything that he ever got in did he ever, ever have it defeated on the House side.
And I have also passed things over from the House authorizing, where he has -- was unable to get it done on the -- on the Senate side. PAUL MCCARTHY: Sure.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: On big legislation, for instance, and he used to take credit for this --
twice he's done this, and we're dear friends, I let him get away from it -- with it.
But the one thing, like the Trans Alaskan Pipeline.
The -- the ability to build that pipeline originated in the House, it did not originate in the Senate
because Senator Stevens and Senator Gravel both introduced the bill that just widened the right of way.
That's all it did.
And that's -- when I got sworn in on March 14, the first -- the question, we had a hearing on the 15th,
and Sam Staggers, he was the ranking member on the Republican side of the Resources, it was called Insular Affairs at that time, he says, "What type of bill are you going to introduce for the Trans Alaska Pipeline."
And I remember we had the embargo in that place.
And I said, "Well, I guess what I'm going to do is the Senate bill."
And he says, "No, you're not going to do that.
And just I looked at him and I, in the first place, didn't know him that well, and I said, "What do you mean?"
"You're going to introduce the widening part, but the provision that's so necessary is the one paragraph, there can be no lawsuits
filed in any part of the pipeline, and that was in the bill.
And I was opposed by it, not only the Democrats, the Republicans, John Dellenback out of Oregon and Phil Ruppe out of Michigan opposed me strenuously,
but I had John Mercoff -- excuse me, John Melcher from Montana, who was Chairman of the Subcommittee, on my side.
And we had about five of the Democrats that he collected, so when it finally came to vote, and I won by two votes on the House side
to make sure there was no lawsuit. That's the House side in the committee.
Mike Gravel, on the other side, found this out, and he's up for election,
and he introduces the amendment on the floor of the Senate,
which I got in the House,
and a vote was taken, and that vote was taken and it was a tie vote.
And the tie was broken by Spiro Agnew, and that's how it got out on the Senate side.
Now the reason I'm bringing that up, I was furious because if he had failed, then my amendment would not have been accepted on the House side.
But he prevailed, now I got to fight all the enviros and all the crazies, and they'd left me alone, and now they are coming down this deal.
And we had debated on the floor of the House, and it was -- we won by 11 votes in the House.
Now we go to conference, and Ted was not on the conference, and that's -- a lot of people don't understand, but I invited Ted,
and Mo Udall agreed to it because he was a Senior Senator.
And I invited Ted to sit in on the conference.
It was Mo Udall, John Melcher, myself, Sam Staggers, and Scoop Jackson, and Ted Stevens.
But the only votes that were in there were myself, Mo Udall, John Melcher, three -- two to one.
And on the other side, the Democrat side was Scoop Jackson, which he was Ted's friend,
but Ted helped me and advised me on that bill.
But that became the law and created the construction of that pipeline. As soon as it was signed by President Nixon, we built it in three years.
It was probably the greatest stroke of legislative action that any two small state members.
Now, we had the help, of course, the embargo, and we played a role.
So the other issue that was very vital to the State of Alaska, again originated in the House, was the 200 mile limit, the EEZ Zone.
And I'll take full credit for that. It was named the Stevens and Magnuson Act because Stevens and Magnuson were big buddies,
but reality is it started in the House, it was written in the House, and instigated by Tom Casey and Bart Eaton, two young fishermen out of Kodiak Island, because our state was being ripped off big time by the fishing industry overseas.
Twelve miles offshore you can see some rows of lights.
But it was strangely opposed by the internationalists.
Henry Kissinger -- this is -- people forget this.
And why I say we finally passed it and -- and had -- had the ability to have this bill signed into law to protect our fisheries.
And it was Thanksgiving.
And I get a call from the White House,
would I fly with President Ford to Fairbanks because he was on the way to the Orient.
And I said, "Mr. President, with all due respect, this is Thanksgiving, and I spend Thanksgiving with my family."
Two days later I get a call from again from Jerry Ford and says, "If we take your wife, will you fly with us to Fairbanks?"
And I said, "You didn't hear me."
I said, "This is the time I spend with my family."
Two days after that I get a call saying, "If we take your whole family, will you go?" Which I had two daughters.
And I says yes, so we got to ride Air Force One.
It was a great adventure.
But the important -- the important factor was that on the airplane was Henry Kissinger and myself and President Ford.
And in the stateroom in the Air Force One, we spent six hours discussing this 200 mile limit,
and why I believe it should be signed, for the good of the nation,
and good of -- for the State of Alaska, the importance of having the EDZ Zone, Economic Development Zone, which is 200 miles out instead of twelve miles out.
We had to give up three miles -- I mean, back to three miles; we gave up nine miles of land -- of state jurisdiction to gain the 200 for the Federal Government,
which created the greatest fisheries in the world.
So this argument went on back and forth.
Henry Kissinger went, "Mr. President," he says, "this is terrible international policy.
The Japanese will, in fact, they will retaliate very quickly against the trade," dah, dah, dah, dah.
And I said, "Mr. President, this is not true. I know the Japanese.
They will accept this. They'll work their way around it," which they did, they bought half the processing plants.
So they'll work their way around it.
Well, anyway, we got to Eielson Air Force Base and the big celebration. And -- and it was quite -- quite good.
And I didn't know whether I succeeded or not, but on the way back he signed the bill.
That's what. But Ted worked it on the side. He and "Maggie" did nurture it through the Senate,
but it started in the House side, so I always let him have credit for it, but that's part of the story.
CHARLES FEDULLO: And let me ask you this question, again, for state archives,
Senator Stevens receives a lot of credit, much of it deserved.
Do you think sometimes he could have done a better job of sharing credit? You've said you guys made a great team.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: No, I don't believe -- I don't agree with that because the human nature reverends the senators.
The senators, I've often said, you never, ever see a star when its on his own.
And we -- he and I were very careful not to be seen that often in public events because he's the sun and I'm the star.
Now, we can serve one another by being in separate places and complementing one another, which we did very well.
And so I -- I don't -- I don't reject the idea, he can have all the credit in the world,
and because as long as he personally recognized what I was able to do, and even he did that.
It's just I don't need that type of recognition, you know.
I've never had anything named after me yet, but a street over here in MacKenzie -- Wasilla -- Barrow, I mean, they got a Don Young street or something, but not much else.
CHARLES FEDULLO: How effective was Senator Stevens in serving Alaskans's interests in the Senate and serving the nation's interest in his forty years there?
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: He -- he should go down in history as the greatest senator Alaska's ever had and will have.
If you look at what he was able to do, and I think that's probably hurt me more this recent election, those that he helped so much, they left him.
And they're going to find out how much he did help them.
And it wasn't just one area. I mean, I can go back to fisheries, he was very, very, very good at that.
Resource development, he was good at that.
The infrastructure as far as the villages he helped build, the telemedicine, he helped build the hospitals, the clinics.
He -- it's hard to show where he somehow didn't -- the Kivalina, Shishmaref erosion control, which is going to be cut out.
Those things that he just did a whole lot because his heart was in it.
And he never got caught into the -- the social hoopty doo, sometimes he had to go because Catherine insisted upon it, but he wasn't the social butterfly,
it was never that -- that was never what he was into. So he was totally dedicated.
I think, like I say, it hurt me the most, I don't think I know
is this is a very cold blooded business, and after all he had done for the state,
some people quickly forgot him, and I think that's bad.
CHARLES FEDULLO: Tell us about what happened the last election cycle in the trial, just your opinions of the indictment,
the Justice Department, the trial, conviction, overturned, election.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: Well, again, I -- I think history will prove out, this is probably the most corrupt our government has been in many, many years and still is.
Those are harsh words, but I believe that very strongly.
What they did to try together a -- the brass ring within the FBI, it was totally wrong and this has proven that out.
They encouraged a witness to lie, they collected evidence that was not permissible, they went down the whole line.
And there's little defense for that as one -- you know, what do you do when you're being prosecuted by the government? There's been -- it's very difficult.
And there's an old saying, you can indict a ham sandwich, and that's what occurred. That really was the case they indicted.
And then they went to a trial, which I think was probably wrong because he thought it was right quickly.
And that, consequently, a trial of not his peers.
They can say all they want, and not his peers.
They never should have held that trial in Washington, D.C.
Their basis was he signed the documents there about the so-called remodeling,
and that's why they tried it instead of trading the venue into Alaska, which would have been great,
or even anyplace else, but nobody in Washington, D.C., likes congressmen and senators.
We're the most disliked group because we live so-called in this little castle and we don't allow them a vote, so the taxation without representation.
So that occurred. But, I mean, I'm not a lawyer and I'm not -- you know, and that occurred, and consequently, he got convicted with false information.
It had nothing to do with the case.
And everybody saw that later on, including Holder, and yet -- it was painful for me, especially,
and -- I don't know if it was painful to him because he believes and he believed that he is totally innocent,
and that gives you a great deal of courage.
And you can't control everything through your life.
You know, I mean, you can't do that.
So I talked to him, I still talk to him quite a bit, and he's not the least bit bitter.
I believe he would have won the election hands down if this hadn't been over that -- I know that, I'm not taking away anything from the new Senator, he was duly elected,
but I do think it was a great loss to the state.
CHARLES FEDULLO: Talk about the time together and what -- what you learned from one another, what you learned from him, what he learned from you.
Clearly a strong relationship, you had each other's back, you helped him get elected.
What did you learn from one another? I think you served together 36 years.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: Yep. You got a friend, you'll never leave a friend.
You always stick by a friend, in every aspect.
And he was always good that way.
He was extremely effective for me -- oh, I'm sorry.
CHARLES FEDULLO: That's okay. It just was crackling a little bit.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: He was extremely respective of me in the sense that if I had someone really giving me a bad time,
you know, "me" being the State of Alaska on the House side, I could call the Senator and say, "You know, this little SOB is sticking his nose in where he shouldn't do, he's wrong, I need your help."
And he could be very effective of offering a little rider to a bill that would put it very seriously to the guy.
And that became known that if they really messed with the state on the House side,
that somehow they were going to be hammered on the Senate side.
The counter side to that was sometimes I'd have a very good project, boy, the state -- we represent the same people.
And I -- I would, you know, talk to these -- "these," which a lot of them are my friends -- and I'd say this is very important.
Sometimes they'd say, "Young, we know it's the right thing to do, but we don't want to put it in for you, because then we don't have any leverage over Ted."
So that's how effective he was.
They didn't -- so things that I knew and they knew was right, they wouldn't put in a bill because this way they knew it was right and I knew -- I wanted it, that Ted would put it in,
but they would use it as leverage if they wanted something. PAUL MCCARTHY: Oh, okay.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: If they wanted something. PAUL MCCARTHY: Sure.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: Which was, you know, I don't blame them, but that's how effective he was.
He was feared and he was respected for his ability to get things done.
And so it -- I'd say it was one of the better teams.
CHARLES FEDULLO: I want to go into issues just because we're short on time,
and maybe we'll get the opportunity to revisit, but I had -- there's a litany, and you said every issue that the state's dealt with in the last 50 years
Senator Stevens has been involved in some capacity, you've been involved in some capacity.
You talked about TAPS authorization. I mean, there's ANCSA and ANILCA, you talked about Magnuson-Stevens,
defense policy, appropriations, telecommunications policy, aviation, energy, ANWR, NPR, gas pipeline, on and on.
Walk me through, what are the -- in your view, what are the significant issues that Senator Stevens worked on
and will be remembered the most of his 40 years in the Senate?
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: Well, of course, the pipeline is the big -- is a big one.
That's -- that's created a tremendous amount of waste which -- wealth which we've wasted.
It's given everybody the feeling of entitlement, which is too bad, but it is still the biggest kahuna in the whole bunch.
Then if you go down to the EEZ Zone, that's very important, 200 mile limit.
The other ones are things that I worked on individually, which he helped me with. I won't give him total credit for it.
The -- the CDQ program, the Community Development Quotas,
that was Harold Spock's dream, he used to drive me nuts.
Here we had a Jewish fellow in Bethel that had married an Eskimo lady that produced two of the greatest daughters in the world who work for me,
but he would just pound me on this the CD. And finally I said, "You know, Harold, I think you're right.
This is the right thing to bring the fisheries back to the State of Alaska, with Alaska Natives being involved instead of sitting on the shores."
And then I went to Ted and I said, "This is a great idea."
And we pursued that. And this was the first time any state has set up any CDQ programs, community development within the fishery.
The results of the 200 mile limit, see, if you follow what I'm saying --
CHARLES FEDULLO: Right, right. CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: So now we are in about the position where we can -- we will have the majority of the fisheries of the -- of the Bering Sea will be owned by Alaskans, not out of Seattle.
Now, that, to me, is a huge stroke of visionary legislation on his behalf and my behalf.
We have -- and in the same arena, because this is a large spectrum,
the NOLs was his idea, the net loss programs where people can sell tax losses and make a lot.
Well, see, the regional corporations were very nearly broke,
but they had this huge losses, so they were able to sell those losses like cap and trade, and that was his baby.
That was the stopgap measure that let them get their feet on the ground.
That was -- that was hugely -- hugely important.
And then along comes the 8(a) contracting, which you're not maybe aware of, but that now is the largest economic boom to this state. No one's aware of that,
over $4 billion come into the state for 8(a) contracting to the Native communities.
And the Senator, at first, did not like that idea.
And -- but I convinced him that this is the right way to go, and then he helped me get it done.
So those actions alone are -- are really what made the -- the economic foundation of this rural parts of Alaska.
You don't see it in Anchorage but the money's here.
And remember, he was involved in -- in the original Native Land Claims Act, I missed that by,
what was it, three months, whatever it was.
And by the way, Nixon was advised to veto that bill.
It was opposed by the agencies and the enviros. Well, the Natives in it with 44 million acres of land and $1 billion.
I wanted a hundred million acres, I didn't get it, they got 44 million acres of land.
But to me, that has formed the state, it is long range investment,
it is long range vision of where not only the Natives are going to go because they are part of the state, where the state is going to go.
The state's done a much poorer job of managing their wealth than the Native corporations have.
And so I -- I give the Senator, you know, I would say, 75 percent of that credit and I'll take 25.
CHARLES FEDULLO: Let me ask you about the 8(a). Do you think the 8(a) is at risk of going away due to lack of the Senator's --
you still have a significant amount of power because of your seniority in the House.
Does it -- is it because of the lack of seniority with the rest of the congressional delegation, Democrats being in trial, is -- is 8(a) at risk because Senator Stevens --
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: 8(a) is at risk for other reasons.
8(a) is at risk because it's successful.
And I have found out when a minority that tries and succeeds is often chosen to be eliminated.
And that's one of the reasons I'm very partial of my Alaska Natives.
The Alaska Natives Land Claims Act was never supposed to work.
And unbeknownst -- it did, I mean, you think about they were told to do -- this is an organization that had no organization, AFN was in the fledgling states -- stage,
and the -- the -- they were told in a bill that within three years they had to organize nonprofit corporations, profit corporations, enrollment of,
and -- and manage mon -- $1 billion and 44 million acres of land, which, by the way, had not been granted to them because no one wanted to survey it to give it to them.
And what they were able to do in three years's time,
the enrollment process alone, I will say, you know, minus or plus side,
there became a lot more -- more American -- I mean Alaska Natives after the Land Claims Act passed than there was before
because if you only had a quarter of a percentage, you could be enrolled.
It always amazed me. But reality is they did it.
And Ted voted for that.
By the way my predecessor did not support it; he claimed he did, but I've got recordings of that.
And I can give Ted credit for that because it was necessity. It was also part of Hickel's program.
If -- we were on what we called the cusp because of the pipeline.
If we hadn't done the claims act, we would never have got the pipeline built.
CHARLES FEDULLO: The lands deal clearly you see as some of the more important piece of legislation. CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: Yes.
CHARLES FEDULLO: Let me ask you about Hickel's decision to choose Senator Stevens.
I mean, you were close with him at that time.
He comes back from Mexico, and I mean, in writings in the press at that point it looks as if he'll be as active and involved in politics but political office may be gone for him.
Was he expecting to be named to that seat?
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: No. CHARLES FEDULLO: Or was he expecting to be a permanent -- ?
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: No. He was disappointed about losing to Elmer Rasmuson.
And the Senator, until he served his time, was relatively unelectable.
And I say that with love. I mean, he's -- he's very aggressive.
He takes pride in being called the Hulk when he got elected.
And in -- and whether the people like it or not, appearances do carry a role.
And -- but no one really thought he had the talent.
I knew he had the talent because I saw him in the legislature.
But the general public, they didn't think he'd have the talent to fill, you know, Bob Bartlett's shoes, the Senator for all Alaskans.
And he was.
That's a very difficult task.
They didn't think a guy that's 5 foot 6, or whatever he is,
would have the capability and the ability to be -- but they didn't see the intellect that he had.
That didn't -- that didn't show.
So once he was given that opportunity, it appeared then -- and Gene Guess ran against him was relatively close.
I'm trying to think of the other lawyer running, McKay, McKay ran against him one time,
they were not really widespread, they were relatively close elections, but once they saw what he could do,
his place was, I think, pretty much established for as long as he wanted to run.
He would have been reelected again in a heartbeat if it hadn't been for this cloud that a -- an injust Justice Department, you know, put over his head, and it, frankly, cost the election.
CHARLES FEDULLO: He -- people talk about his intellect and his desires about politics.
Could you just talk about that?
And -- and Chad's telling us this is the last question, so what we will try to do is reschedule for you another time when you're in town. CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: Where -- where's the --
CHAD: It's down at the Atwood Building. CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: Okay. Is Ed going to be there?
CHAD: What's that? CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: Oh, Atwood Building. CHAD: Atwood Building.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: Okay. Now, having said that, we'll do it.
You have to remind me because, you know, I have a tendency to forget sometimes if we go over it again if I start inartfully rehashing things I've covered before because I'm just sort of rambling now.
CHARLES FEDULLO: You are not. And I'll tell you, this is very --
I've learned about a dozen little things just in this time, so thank you;
and Chad, thank you for your patience.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: But he -- his -- his desire was to serve the state, which, you know, his being from LA,
his excitement of being involved in Washington, D.C., with Seaton, you know, he was the Solicitor General for Seaton.
His dream was to be the senator from -- for the State of Alaska, and that's what he wanted to do.
And you knew that by being with him in the State Legislature.
Very effective in the State Legislature.
But again, he ran twice.
PAUL MCCARTHY: Right. CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: And he lost.
And God has ways of -- of choosing, including myself, or the tasks that had to be set upon them.
He had no idea; in fact, he was probably the least one. You had John Butrovich, you had Carl Brady, and that was Wally Hickel's close friend,
and Wally Hickel was our -- knew Ted well enough that he had the intellect capability
and the bulldog capability of being a good senator, and I give Wally Hickel credit for that.
If Wally had been really greedy himself, he would have appointed himself, which he could have done.
Wally would not have made a good senator. I hope this isn't public right away, but he would not have made a good senator.
Ted made a great Senator.
And I think when time history is done, as I said, I will not see it because I don't think anybody will ever be able to do what he has done
because of positioning, friendship, and then the knowledge. Remember, once we had statehood, he selected lands.
And remember, Prudhoe Bay was part of the field with Bill Egan, so, you know, he was -- he was there at the right time, right place, with the desire to represent this state.
CHARLES FEDULLO: Congressman, thank you.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: Thank you. (Pause in recording.)
CHARLES FEDULLO: We'll keep going.
LU YOUNG: Oh, what are you doing?
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: We're talking about Ted.
CHARLES FEDULLO: It's an oral history on Senator Stevens, as a warm-up for an oral history on your husband. LU YOUNG: Oh.
CHARLES FEDULLO: So I guess talk to me a little bit about the Senator's temper.
You talked about the Hulk tie. And was it a benefit to him or did it hurt him?
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: The Senator had the ability to use his temper as a constructive tool.
And he never had lost control in his whole time, about being a bully,
or that type of thing, but he used it to his advantage, and he was very good because he knew the facts and the -- and the history of most legislation.
A lot of other people never read the legislation, and if they were messing around, he'd nail them in a heartbeat.
Did it hurt him sometimes? Maybe, because the media has a tendency to overplay something like, you know, he said he was going to resign if they voted against him, dah, dah, dah, dah, and you remember that was most recent.
I admired him for doing that, and I think he won his point, you know, it was -- he won very handedly against John McCain, by the way.
So he used it to -- he sort of built himself as this Hulk as a --
they knew he could blow up, but every time he blew up, and I've been around him, 99 percent of that time it was orchestrated.
So he used it to his advantage.
They may not have known that, but I knew it.
So that is one of the traits that you have; other than myself, when I blow up, you're liable to get hurt.
And they know that, too.
So they're very -- very cautious sometimes, but I'm also getting more mature, I have to be careful of that. But no, he used it to his advantage.
Now, if I can say this, and it's somewhat touchy.
I love this man, but I watched him get indicted, convicted, and lose the election in six months, and never saw him lose his cool.
Never blow up.
PAUL MCCARTHY: Really?
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: Two weeks after the election -- this is between you and I, and I hope you don't play this out publicly right now.
But two weeks after the election, the phone rings at home and I pick it up, and I know instantly who it is, it's the Senator, and he is furious,
using profanity beyond my imagination, and all he can say is, "Those sons of bitches, who do they think they are," yada, yada, yada. And I kept saying, "Calm down, calm down. What is the wrong?
Why are you so angry, Senator."
He says, "In 1985, an organization" -- and I won't name it here -- "gave me a totem pole to put in my office.
And I explained to them then I could not accept a gift of that value, and I would take it on loan.
And they agreed to lend it to me until I left office,
and it would go into my memoirs, because then he no longer would be a Senator.
And he received notice he was to deliver it to the new Senator's office.
And he was furious.
And I thought -- I says, "Senator, calm down. Just calm down.
You're getting ready to deliver it to the new Senator's office."
He says, "That's what they want."
I says, "Send it to my office. And I'll keep it for you. They don't dare ask me for it."
So it's still -- now, the reason he was upset is for 1985 until the year 2008,
he'd taken -- every picture of every constituent was taken in front of that totem pole.
CHARLES FEDULLO: Oh, really?
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: That's why he was upset.
And now it's in my office, but I don't take pictures in front of the totem pole.
It's his totem pole.
And when I'm out of this time and he has his memoirs later, he's going to have that totem pole there, it's not going to go back to those that gave it to him, it's not going to go to the Senator.
That's just -- that goes with what I'm saying, about his idea of being the terrible temper, all during that stress, he never lost it.
He did lose it when...
CHARLES FEDULLO: I mean, did directions ever change? You two must have been closely aligned, you come into office at about the same time.
Did the directions and the goals ever change? I mean, early on it would have been ANCSA, ANILCA, TAPS Authorization, and then -- PAUL MCCARTHY: Statehood transition.
CHARLES FEDULLO: Statehood. How did the directions that you would forge change?
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: Well, the main thing that changed is the involvement -- remember, when we took office, it was the --
when I took office, and he had just taken office, it was the end of the Vietnam War,
and he -- the military took an awful hit, and which may occur again.
Took an awful hit. And Vietnam was not popular, we started losing, you know, military in Alaska.
And he got very, very concerned about this as long as I did, and together we rebuilt Alaska's military might for the nation.
You look now we have the F22's, we have the F15's, we may lose some of those, and we have the tankers, we have the largest Fort Rich contingency, the Stryker Force.
He and I -- especially he because he was on the Appropriations Committee --
have rebuilt the military strength in the state and for the nation.
And I think that was a -- something that could not have happened without him.
And some people don't see that, but I don't think it would have happened.
And he was very deeply, as an old pilot, a guy that flew over the Hump for, I don't know, 35 missions or whatever it was,
he was better dedicated to the men and women and the ability to defend this nation,
and then interfered with another nation that took away the freedoms. So I think that was probably the larger change in trade.
But in the meantime, though, we're doing everything -- the Coast Guard.
He helped me immensely on the Coast Guard because I'm on the committee that has charge of the Coast Guard authorizing, but I had to fund it.
When we started we had three Coast Guard stations in this state.
We had Ketchikan, we had Juneau, and I don't know -- excuse me, two, Ketchikan and Juneau.
Now we have Kodiak, the largest Coast Guard station in the United States, tied in with the 200 mile limit.
We have one in Cordova, we have one in Sitka, we have one in Ketchikan, we have one in Juneau, and we have a small one here.
And that's what he got excited, tied in with the 200 mile limit.
CHARLES FEDULLO: Talk a little bit about politics. And I'm going to -- (Pause in recording.)
CHARLES FEDULLO: Okay. Sorry about that, sir. Politics and -- and the shift in the state.
Alaska went from being -- the more modern phrase would be from a blue state to a red state during your two's times in Washington.
How involved were you and Senator Stevens in seeing that shift occur?
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: Well, this is the funny part about it.
When we got involved, in 19 -- I'm going back to my dates now.
When Gold -- when Goldwater ran in 1964 and Rockefeller ran in 1964.
And the Goldwater faction was John Butrovich, Wally Hickel, Bruce Kendall,
Ms. Ringstad in Fairbanks, and I can go down the line.
Senator Stevens was the Rockefeller man.
And Dick Jones, who was our tax guy, he was a Rockefeller man, and Lu and I are in Fort Yukon minding our own business.
This is before I filed to run for State House.
But we got -- we had one phone in Fort Yukon. We get a call that they wanted to talk to me, and I get on the phone,
and it's Ted Stevens, and he wants to have a picture with Nelson Rockefeller behind a dog team.
And would I set it up in Fort Yukon. He's in Fairbanks. So I said, "Yeah."
And so they fly in on a plane, and it wasn't a jet in those days, they'd fly in a plane.
Nelson Rockefeller gets down off of the airplane, out of the airplane, and he's got a wolf parka on, bless his heart.
I have my dog team out on the runway.
And we shake hands, everything, yada, yada, yada. And Lu's there with me. And anyway, he says, "Well, how do I do this? And I said, "Governor, you just keep your foot on this brake,
and I'm going to walk down about 200 yards." And they have the movie cameras and everything out there because he wanted to say he's been every 50 -- to every 50 states.
That was his -- that was his goal.
And he wanted to show something Alaskan.
And so I walked down about a hundred yards, and when I said, "When I do this," I said, "You let go of the brake and just say, 'hike.'"
And he went, "Hike," and they took off, boy, just flying down there and a great shot.
He gets down, and he says, "Gee, this is really fun, can I do it some more."
And I just says, "Yeah. Just tell them, go. Go. Hike."
And there's about a three-mile track that they'll follow, and away he went and he had a ball.
And he finally comes back and he's got his -- I loved the old guy, by the way.
But he had this big grin on his face, and "That's the most fun I've had," yada, yada, yada.
And then he said, "Are you going to go to the Republican Convention in Juneau?"
And I said, "Well, you know, Governor, all due respects, I'm a school teacher, I don't have any money."
He said, "Do you want to go?"
And I said, "Well, I wouldn't mind going." And he said, "Oh, okay."
And they get back on the airplane. Now, this is the good old days.
About a week later I get a letter, and inside are two round trip tickets to Juneau and a thousand dollars cash.
And that was perfectly legal.
CHARLES FEDULLO: Sure. PAUL MCCARTHY: Absolutely.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: And so Lu and I go to Juneau, and there's Ted Stevens, Dick Jones, myself,
and it was about five or six guys, we organized in Juneau against the Rockefeller fans --
I mean, the Goldwater fans.
Ted was in charge of that.
LU YOUNG: Who was that lady that --
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: Well, let me finish.
LU YOUNG: Wait. What was her name? I forget.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: That was Ringstad, Sylvia Ringstad.
LU YOUNG: Oh, yeah.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: But anyway, we managed in a ballot to win the nomination for Nelson Rockefeller.
Wally Hickel resigned from the party as chairman.
It was a -- it was a blood bath because all these moderates overcame the old -- old school.
The fun part about that is Ted went back -- came back to Anchorage, but we had chartered an F27 turbo prop from Juneau to Whitehorse to Fairbanks.
And we get on the airplane, it's supposed to be the champagne flight because it's all going to be Goldwater.
Well, we get on the flight and it's not a not a champagne flight, everybody's -- half of them, you know, they want to kill one another.
Including me. And they had the champagne on board, but it got kind of rough, and I finally said to the stewardess, I said, "Just give everybody a bottle of champagne."
And so that's what they did.
And -- but anyway, Sylvia Ringstad came up to my wife and said to her, "Because of your husband's actions, you're going to be a widow." I mean, this is how bitter.
Anyway, we won that nomination.
Then we go to the Cow Palace that year, this is (indiscernible coughing) as a delegate.
And we went down to the Cow Palace where the national convention is.
You know how many votes we had?
CHARLES FEDULLO: None.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: We had -- we had none. You follow what I'm saying? PAUL MCCARTHY: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: So we ended up voting for Harry Wong, Margaret K. Smith, you know, our six votes, whatever we had.
But that's part of the history of the Republican Party because we were -- we were the rabble rousers in the Republican Party.
CHARLES FEDULLO: But that sort of underscores that you and Senator Stevens, what you read is that
particularly through the '70's and '80's, you never aligned yourselves specifically with the National Republican Party.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: No. Even -- you know, I'm a labor man, that's prohibited.
I've been a Teamster, and had a Teamster's card until I got elected.
Drove Cats. Made my living on believing in the working man, and Ted did, too.
That's not necessarily the Republican mantle, you know, which is too bad, you know.
So we -- we were always accused of being -- and Ted especially. Because I'm Pro Life, he's Pro Choice,
always accused of being squishy, and that wasn't true.
Because he -- see, I always respect anybody. You can be a left wing Communist as long as you believe it.
If you don't believe it and you're doing it for expediting process, then that's wrong.
In his case, he believed it and he strongly suggested that he was correct in his position and defended it, and for that you have to respect him.
That doesn't go well with those that pass litmus test.
And for -- I'm still in that box, is why they ran a primary opponent against me last year; I'm not, you know, way over here.
You can't be way over here and achieve any legislative goals. And his goal and my goal is to legislate good solutions to problems.
To not do that is a disservice to the country -- and that goes for both parties because you've got this boat over here is just as bad.
PAUL MCCARTHY: Sure.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: And in the meantime, the middle is being ignored. You know.
CHARLES FEDULLO: What about the disappointments? 36 years you served with the Senator. People bring up ANWR as a major disappointment.
Any disappointments in legislative priorities? There's so many things that the Senator has accomplished that you've worked with him to accomplish.
What are some of the disappointments or some of the things you're still working to get completed?
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: Well, again, I don't think either one of us look upon any failures as -- as a loss or a disappointment.
And we admit failures. ANWR's one of them. But you have a lot of elements. He came within one vote.
If Coleman had stuck by his word, we would have had the 60 votes to overcome the filibuster.
A terrible, terrible thing to do. And he -- we had his vote, he got cold feet.
He's out in Minnesota. That may have been a disappointment.
You know, I won't speak for him what he considers this. I have never really been disappointed.
If you give your all, and I think he felt the way -- the same way,
your all, you may not win, but never feel guilty or disappointed if you don't achieve it because of other factors.
I think that's the main thing that people don't understand.
And -- and -- but you put all the plusses and a few minuses, you have to feel quite good at what's been done.
So I don't think the disappointment factor ever really kicked in on him. And I know it hasn't with me.
And one of the fun things we had together, though, is when Governor Murkowski was a Senator,
that was always exciting, because we would go into the conference room like this,
and two egos of that size is -- and I -- I am the Congressman, is always interesting to be around,
because oh, my God, and we're representing the same people.
They'd get in this huge argument.
So one day, Frank got up and was going to storm out of the office, and Ted got up and stormed out in front of him and said, "No one storms out of my office before I do."
And I'm sitting there doing this.
I'm just sitting in hysterics because, I mean, it was fun.
I actually ended up being the referee about 90 percent of the time.
And they were actually good friends, you know. They'd be -- Frank was Commissioner of Administration or something when he was in Juneau, and Ted was Majority Leader and -- but it was always fun and exciting.
And we did meet every month.
But they would always get in these crazy discussions, as I call them.
I don't know whether they were arguments.
CHARLES FEDULLO: Another -- talk about the relationship with Mike Gravel, and -- and how that sort of transpired.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: Mike Gravel was a chameleon.
Not a comedian, a chameleon.
Changes color, or whatever it was.
Ted always blamed him for Ann's death.
Because Mike wouldn't come to a -- an agreement on the Alaska National Lands Act.
And he played the role and played for the publicity, and Ted was very frustrated with Mike.
And that's one of the things that I never -- I get along with anybody.
But he really believed that if Mike had worked correctly with him, that Ann would not have been dead.
And I don't know where he got that, but he held that against Mike.
And I think he still does, because of the -- of the plane accident.
It -- they never worked together, just not good.
CHARLES FEDULLO: They almost had to have other members of the state kind of say we've got to stop this infighting. Is that correct? Or was it --
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: It didn't -- it didn't occur as it should have.
Now, the difference is Mike never had the relationship with the senators, although he was in the majority. PAUL MCCARTHY: Uh hum.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: He didn't have a relationship with Bob Byrd, he didn't have a relationship with Dan Inouye.
He didn't have the close working relationship with any other senators. Now, he may deny that,
but the fact is I watched it, and he had no stroke at all.
And then it got worse, of course, because he nominated himself for president, seconded by himself.
I mean, put Yvonne Burke off -- pushed her off the stage.
I don't know if you remember that or not but it was not a happy occasion. She was from LA, beautiful black lady.
And I mean, he did not, and I -- he did it because it was -- that was Mike.
CHARLES FEDULLO: How did -- how did Ann's death impact the Senator? I mean, there's the personal tragedy -- tragedy and then the professional tragedy.
And the personal tragedy that changed him the most, it seems to be, is Ann's death;
and then when the professional tragedy, though, they -- they can't really be compared,
it was the run for Minority Leader against Bob Dole.
Do you want to comment on that?
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: Well, two things. One is the loss of Ann bothered him probably more than anything else because not only was it the loss of his wife, it was the "why."
"Why me and not -- and not she."
She died, and he lived.
And I don't know whether you realize that the only thing he got out of that was the seat belt cut into his hip.
Never broke a bone, never -- and she had no marks on her and never broke a bone, but it was a slap on the mouth on the concrete that just disintegrated her insides and killed her dead instantly.
And he could never -- he used to, you know, frankly, cry to me, and he said, "Why"?
And I said, "You have no right to ask that. That's God's will.
You just leave it alone. You know, accept it and go forth."
And he eventually did.
You know, I remember he called me and had to have a drink down at the -- at the Whale's Tail over at the Captain Cook, and he wanted to ask me a question.
And he -- he hemmed and hawed around and finally he says, "You know, I want to ask you, what would you think if I married Catherine?"
And I said, "I think it's great." Well, you know, she used to baby sit for us, which she did.
And I said, "So?"
And I said, "Senator, regardless of who you marry, they're always going to talk about it. If you love her, marry her."
And that's exactly what he did, you see, but he -- he wasn't that confident, you know, and sure, it had been three years since Ann had the accident.
Now professionally when he lost to Bob Dole, I think one of the things that hurt him, if anything, was his relationship with Bob Byrd and Danny Inouye, with his other members.
You know, the Goldwaters and down the line, you know.
I can't verify that, I'm not a senator. He came very close, I think he came within two votes of winning it.
And Bob Dole is a very formidable person in his own right,
and a very talented senator, and had a great sense of wit,
and had generated probably more support from, I call it the -- the Goldwater Republican side of the aisle where Ted was more in line and friendship-wise with the Democrat side. Well, that doesn't bode well for a leadership position.
So, I mean, that's the only thing I can interpret it.
CHAD: All right, guys.
CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG: Thank you so much. CHARLES FEDULLO: Congressman, thank you.