Alaska Congressman Seeks Distance From Accused Militia Plotter

A Republican congressman from Alaska, who also is on the board of directors of the National Rifle Association, now is attempting to distance himself from a Fairbanks militia leader accused in a high-profile firearms, murder and kidnapping plot.

In April 2009, with a video camera rolling, Rep. Don Young signed a “Letter of Declaration” being circulated by the Second Amendment Task Force/Alaska Peacemakers Militia, led by Francis Schaeffer Cox. The “declaration” called on “sovereign Americans” to “alter or abolish” any government that tries to “further tax, restrict or register firearms” or prevents individuals from exercising their “God-given right to self-defense [that] precedes all human legislation.”

Cox apparently thought the Second Amendment also gave him the right to possess hand grenades, a silencer and an unregistered machine gun. He’s accused of keeping such an illegal weapons cache in a trailer in Fairbanks.

The 27-year-old militia leader was arrested earlier this month on state and federal charges accusing him of being at the center of a militia plot to kill Alaska state troopers and a federal judge, along with amassing the illegal firearms. Militias are the paramilitary wing of the so-called “Patriot” movement, whose conspiracy-minded members typically see the federal government as their primary enemy. The movement has grown dramatically in the last two years.

Five other militia members also are now charged with crimes in a “241 plot” that allegedly involved pledges by members to kill two federal or state officials for every militia member arrested or killed.

Shortly after those arrests, a YouTube video of the congressman and Cox at the signing of the militia’s “declaration letter” surfaced.

The connection between Young and Cox is drawing national attention from the National Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, the liberal Crooks and Liars blog, and Media Matters Political Correction, a liberal monitor of the political right.

That apparently is drawing heat to the congressman.

A staff aide at the Alaska congressman’s office in Washington, D.C., said Tuesday that several calls had been received, but that the office had not issued a formal response. The aide referred inquiries to Young’s press secretary, Meredith Kenny, who had left Washington, D.C., for a week-long visit to Alaska, possibly because of the developing controversy in the state.

“The Congressman has absolutely no affiliation with Mr. Cox,’’ Kenny said in a brief E-mail response when asked Tuesday for reaction. The press spokeswoman confirmed that the YouTube video was taken at an Open Carry Day in Fairbanks in 2009.

“Congressman Young attended solely as a staunch defender of the Second Amendment,” Kenny said. “The letter the Congressman signed expresses the view that we should elect those who will defend the Constitution, and in turn the Second Amendment, as written, or vote them out of power.”