Judge rejects denial of FOIA request in Young case

By NEDRA PICKLER | January 10, 2012 | 4:10 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge is rejecting the Justice Department's refusal to turn over records of its criminal investigation into Rep. Don Young's handling of a Florida highway project, including its decision not to charge the congressman.

The department had denied a government watchdog group's Freedom of Information Act request in order to protect the Alaska Republican's privacy rights. But U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled Tuesday that public interest in the case outweighs Young's privacy rights.

Congress asked the Justice Department in 2008 to investigate Young's role in securing a $10 million earmark to widen a Florida highway. The project would have benefited a developer who helped raise money for Young.

Young was re-elected to a 20th term in 2010 after revealing that the department was not going to charge him.