WASHINGTON — Two sons of U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young work for Pinellas County companies that have received millions of dollars in federal money thanks to the congressman.
Patrick Young, 20, is a security administrator in the downtown St. Petersburg office of Science Applications International Corp., a large defense contractor more commonly known as SAIC. He has a high-level security clearance and works with intelligence data, Rep. Young said.
Another son, Billy Young, 23, is an outreach specialist with National Forensic Science Technology Center, a not-for-profit corporation in Largo that provides training and services for state and local crime labs.
Both employers are big beneficiaries of Rep. Young, a senior Republican from Indian Shores who has been chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee and is now the top-ranking Republican on its defense subcommittee. He has used his clout to steer millions of dollars to his sons' employers, both before and after they got their jobs.
Since 2004, Young said he has directed $44.6-million in federal money to the SAIC office where Patrick works, primarily for contracts involving communications and radar equipment. SAIC said that money has not gone to the specific project that employs Patrick and that his employment is unrelated to his father.
Young has directed $28.6-million in nine years to the Largo forensic center that employs Billy, according to the center.
Young said he approved spending for the projects on their merits and not because the organizations employ his sons.
"I had nothing to do with Pat going to work with SAIC, and I had nothing to do with Billy getting his job," Young told the St. Petersburg Times on Tuesday.
House rules don't prohibit lawmakers from giving federal earmarks to companies that employ their children. Young simply had to sign a letter for each request asserting that neither he nor his wife "has any financial interest in this project."
Stan Brand, a Washington lawyer who handles congressional ethics cases, said as long as a member complies with that rule, "there is nothing to prohibit" Young from directing earmarks to his sons' employers.
Rep. Young said he did not want to discuss Patrick's job: "I really can't tell you anything about what he's doing. His job is at a fairly high level of classification and security."
SAIC is the nation's ninth-largest defense contractor, with more than 40,000 employees. It gets about 93 percent of its business from government contracts. It is so secretive a spokesman once called it "a stealth company."
Patrick passed the GED test before taking a job in the Washington area with a contractor that worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency, his father said. Rep. Young would not identify that first employer but said he had not given that company any federal money.
About a year ago, Patrick Young moved to Pinellas County and went to work for SAIC. The congressman said his son is "pretty young for this kind of security clearance" but that "he's been trained by federal agencies that are involved in national security and intelligence."
Rep. Young said Patrick is so good at his job that he has been courted by two other companies.
The congressman's earmarks have been instrumental in the expansion of SAIC's St. Petersburg office, which has grown from two employees when it opened eight years ago to 44.
Young has a congressional office on the same floor of the building as SAIC, but he said that is a coincidence.
Billy, the older of the two sons, works for the forensic science center at the Young-Rainey STAR Center, a former defense plant in Largo. It got its name because Rep. Young and Chuck Rainey, a former Pinellas County commissioner, played key roles in its creation.
Billy met Kevin Lothridge, executive director of the forensic center, at a campaign fundraiser. (Lothridge contributed $250 to the congressman's 2006 campaign, his only contribution since 1990, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.)
Lothridge said he was impressed by Billy, a graduate of the University of South Florida who worked for Drug Free America, and he hired him as an outreach liaison in June 2007. In that job, Billy handles relations with USF and the Young-Rainey STAR center, and he speaks at conferences and trade shows.
Lothridge said Rep. Young's congressional earmarks account for about one-fourth of the money his group receives in a typical year. But he said there is no connection between the money and his hiring decision.
"Billy has exceeded our expectations," Lothridge said. "He's a great kid. He's a good employee. I don't care if his last name is Young or not."
Young, 77, recently announced he would seek re-election for his 20th term in the House.
Young has six children, including three from a previous marriage. The three from the first marriage do not work for companies that have received federal earmarks, Young said.
The other three, Patrick, Billy and Robert, are from his current marriage to Beverly Young. Robert served in the Air Force and is now in college in the Philadelphia area. The Times reported in 2006 that his wife, Cindy Young, was an attorney for a lobbying firm who arranged three meetings between her defense contractor clients and Rep. Young. Two of her clients got money in Young's appropriations bill, but Young said it was based on merit and he gave no favoritism toward his daughter-in-law's clients.
Times researcher Shirl Kennedy and staff writer Kris Hundley contributed to this report. Washington bureau chief Bill Adair can be reached at email@example.com or (202) 463-0575.