Monday, June 19, 2017
Congressman May Give His Lobbyist Girlfriend’s Employer Control Over Air Traffic’s Billions
President Donald Trump’s plan to hand over the U.S. air traffic control system to a non-profit entity closely mirrors legislation crafted by Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Bill Shuster. Shuster’s plan gave partial control of the proposed air traffic non-profit’s board to a lobbying group, Airlines for America (AFA), that employs his girlfriend, Shelley Rubino. Trump’s outline to Congress used language that makes AFA the only trade group eligible to pick board seats for the non-profit, according to an airline industry source. “Trump’s plan is very similar to Shuster’s in terms of how board seats are allocated,” an industry source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Based on how things are written, AFA is the only trade group that can get those seats. Her trade group will get those seats, which is huge.” AFA is a powerful industry lobbying group with members that include United Airlines, Southwest, JetBlue, U.S. Airways, Federal Express Corporation, United Parcel Service Airlines, and Alaska Airlines. The only U.S. airline that is not part of AFA is Delta. Rubino is AFA’s vice president of global government affairs. Shuster chairs the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Politico outed their relationship in April 2015. and Shuster claims Rubino did not lobby his office on his air traffic control legislation. However, he did not recuse himself from drafting the bill. Shuster and Rubino were dating as recently as April 2016, according to Politico. The two were spotted lounging poolside in Miami Beach with AFA President Nick Calio. Public records show Rubino is registered as a Democrat in Connecticut. She previously worked for the chairman of the Democratic caucus. The airline industry spent a total of more than $7.4 million on lobbying in 2016, with 47 percent of that going to Republicans, according to OpenSecrets.org. Shuster received $284,399 from the airline industry in the 2015-2016 cycle, making it his top donor. Shuster proposed legislation in 2016 to transfer management of U.S. air traffic control assets to a non-profit corporation. The bill would have given “the principal organization representing mainline air carriers” control of four out of eleven, or 36 percent, of seats on the board. AFA would have been able to pick those four board members. Partial control of the airline board would give AFA a say in how billions of dollars are spent and how revenue is raised. The Air Traffic Organization’s annual budget was nearly $7.4 billion in 2015...more
This type of corruption has occurred, and will continue to occur, as long these huge federal agencies are authorized to wield such power over the economy.