Monday, June 23, 2008

Lobbyist Rick Alcalde is at the center of earmark controversy involving Rep. Don Young

as reported 5.02.08 by Senior Editor Susan Crabtree of The Hill:

"The earmark has been tainted by controversy. Lobbyist Rick Alcalde represented both FGSU [Florida Gulf State University] as well as the company owned by Daniel Aronoff, a real estate developer who owned 4,000 acres along Coconut Road and helped organize a fundraiser for Young during one of his visits to the area in 2005. Both entities requested the Coconut Road earmark." ... "Young flew to FGSU for a town hall meeting in 2005 on a chartered plane owned by a Michigan company; the owner told the Naples Daily News that the Aronoffs were among his biggest clients." ... "After the town hall, Young went directly to a fundraiser at the Hyatt Coconut Point, which Aronoff helped organize." ... "Young said Mack invited him to the town hall meeting." ... "Young also posted documents and photos on his website in an effort to demonstrate that Mack was deeply involved in the earmark. In one letter in March 2006 to FGSU’s president, Mack supported it."
Detroit-based casino syndicator Michael J. Malik, Sr. is another client of Alcalde's. Malik and his partner Mrs. Marian Ilitch are backing Indian casino proposals in California, Michigan and New York that have come or will come before the House Natural Resources Committee -- a committee once chaired by Rep. Young. Young is currently ranking member on the Natural Resources Committee.

Like Aronoff, Malik and Ilitch are from Michigan; have raised a substantial amount of money for Young; have flown Young around in private/chartered aircraft; and have Young's backing of a controversial off-reservation casino bill (H.R. 2176) that could bring millions to the Detroit casino syndicators.

Malik retained the services of Alcalde after Malik's previous lobbyist, Barbara Bonfiglio, came under intense scrutiny, left her firm abruptly (Williams & Jensen) and went into hiding. Alcalde and Bonfiglio had ties to Rep. Jerry Lewis (former chair of the House Appropriations Committee), former Rep. Richard Pombo, Tom DeLay, Young and others.

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