Thursday, June 7, 2012

Activists in St. Pete protest Rep. Bill Young's earmarks for defense contractors

Posted By on Thu, Jun 7, 2012 at 9:29 AM

Congressman Bill Young
  • Congressman Bill Young
A dreary afternoon downpour did not stop the Florida Consumer Action Network and associated activists from protesting U.S. Rep Bill Young’s earmarking of millions of dollars to defense contractors, several of whom have local ties to the Tampa Bay area.

The group of about 30 protesters gathered outside of the offices of Science Applications International Inc. in downtown St. Petersburg. Activists waved signs and chanted 99% slogans to passing cars, with an occasional honk responding back.

Science Applications International Inc., headquartered out of McLean, Virginia, provides technological, logistical, research and expertise solutions to a wide array of government agencies, including Departments of Defense and Homeland security. In 2010, 89% of SAIC’s 11.12 billion in revenues came from government contracts, according to This makes it the 9th largest recipient of government revenue.

What the protestors have a problem with is the possible case of nepotism between SAIC and Congressman Young. As reported by the Tampa Bay Times in 2008, Young’s son, Patrick, got a job at SAIC as a security administrator at the age of 20. Before and after Patrick’s employment, Young had earmarked millions of federal dollars to SAIC, which until recently was housed in the same office building as Young’s downtown office.

“It’s very biased, it’s not on the basis of the people, I feel like it’s more along the lines of what will line his pockets,” said Shane Mckiney, who attended the protest as a concerned citizen . McKiney feels that the congressman presents himself as someone who votes with the people’s interest in mind, but votes against funding for social services and for funding for defense contractors.

McKiney added that he would like to see more accountability and background research in the bid process for contractors that do not present a conflict of interest.

The group also targeted Young’s other son, Billy, who works at the National Forensic Science Technology Center in Largo that has received nearly $40 million in earmarked funds between 2000 and 2010, according to an FCAN press release.

Bill Hurley was a part of group of activists that went to Young’s Seminole office last month to request a meeting with the congressman. Young was in Washington voting on the GOP budget, a/ka/ the Paul Ryan budget. Hurley said a secretary took down names and numbers and said the office would arrange a future meeting. Hurley said neither he nor anyone he knew that went to the meeting has received a call.

“I don’t care who calls me,” said Hurley “I just want it to be known that I was there.”

A representative from SAIC’s office building went to the street corner to tell the group that Bill Young was not in the building, but otherwise did not respond to the protest.

Young, who has represented most of Pinellas County in Congress for over 40 years, is vying to be elected into office for the 21st time. He'll face the winner of the Democratic primary, either Nina Hayden or Jessica Ehrlich, that takes place later this summer.

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