Lawmaker pressures U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to assign airport slot to campaign contributor
JULY 22, 2012
Documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show that a Western lawmaker pressured the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to assign a highly-coveted airport slot to a campaign contributor. In a series of letters, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) urged Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to approve Alaska Airline’s application for nonstop service from Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) in an exception to the perimeter rule. DCA’s perimeter rule bars direct flights from airports more than 1,250 mile away that lack international border screening capabilities.
According to lobbying records kept by the U.S. Congress, Alaska Airlines has spent more than one million dollars since the fall of 2009 lobbying the U.S. Congress, DOT, the White House, the National Transportation Safety Board, and the U.S. Customs & Border Patrol for the exemption. Federal Elections Commission records show that the airline’s political action committee, Alaska Air Group, gave $2000 toward Blumenauer’s 2012 primary race. The airline itself gave Blumenauer’s campaign $3,000 as well.
Judicial Watch filed the attached FOIA request on November 9, 2011 following Blumenauer’s appearance at a Cincinnatti rally to promote the Obama administration’s “American Jobs Act.” DOT released responsive documents to Judicial Watch on June 12, a month after it had granted Alaska Air the sought-after exemption.
- DOT picks Alaska Airlines: http://www.dot.gov/affairs/2012/dot5512.html
- WSJ on the rule’s history: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704754304576096322639404288.html
- The Economist offers analysis: http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2012/05/ronald-reagan-washington-national-airport
- Characterizing Obama’s Jobs Act as a Campaign Tool: http://www.talkingsides.com/blogs/2011/10/21/congress-just-a-campaign-tool-to-obama
- U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3) and Cincinnatti Mayor Mark Mallory host a Jobs Act rally: http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/mayor/pages/-44544-/
- Lettermarking is the new earmarking: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/06/us/politics/congress-appears-to-be-trying-to-get-around-earmark-ban.html?_r=1&pagewanted=1