Last week, Politico blew the whistle that House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster is dating Shelley Rubino, “a top lobbyist for the leading U.S. airline trade association, an organization that spends millions of dollars trying to influence his panel.”
The two have been romantically involved since last summer.
Although Rubino is not permitted to lobby Bill Shuster or his staff, she is able to lobby the other 50 members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Politico reports the committee “is currently at the center of a high-stakes to enact the most sweeping overhaul of the Federal Aviation Administration in decades. The package could include changes to the nation’s air travel system, including the privatization of the air traffic control system.”
Clearly, the U.S. airline trade association has a major interest in the legislation. The question is, does Shelley Rubino and Bill Shuster’s relationship present a conflict of interest?
This isn’t the first time Bill Shuster’s personal relations with female lobbyists have been called into question. He’s been seen “partying” with female lobbyists at the Capitol Hill townhouse in 2010.
His father, Bud Shuster, resigned from Congress in 2001. Politico states Bud resigned “after allegedly accepting gifts from and giving preferential access to a former aide-turned-lobbyist. Bill Shuster won the seat after his father resigned. The elder Shuster denied wrongdoing at the time.”
Bill Shuster might not be directly accepting gifts from lobbyists, but he did hire Chris Brown, the vice president for legislative and regulatory policy at Airlines for America (A4A), a group that his girlfriend lobbies for frequently.
Chris Brown is now the staff director on the Transportation Committee’s aviation subcommittee. That panel is playing a critical role in the FAA reauthorization.
When it comes to lobbying groups, A4A is a powerhouse. Members include Delta Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, FedEx, Atlas Air, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest, United, UPS and US Airways. Politico reports that “it spent $6.8 million on lobbying in 2014, according to disclosure forms filed with the Senate.”
For more on this questionable relationship, watch this Newsbreaker clip:
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.
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