Know Your Transportation Lobbyists: Transit Beats Roads — Sort Of
Transportation lobbying is a complicated universe, in which multi-issue
environmental groups can be as active as organizations that exist only
to influence infrastructure decision-making.
But to shed some more light on a cast of characters that Streetsblog Capitol Hill began introducing last month,
it’s worth exploring who represents Washington’s two largest
transportation players and how much those groups have spent this year.
The American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials, or AASHTO,
is the road lobby’s leading voice, reporting more than $53 million in
annual revenue on its most recent publicly available Internal Revenue
Service (IRS) filing.
With a membership of state-level
public officials, AASHTO does not employ in-house lobbyists but
contracts out with several firms, spending $270,000 in the first half
of this year, according to congressional disclosures.
AASHTO’s team includes Jack Schenendorf
of Covington & Burling, a former chief of staff on the House
transportation committee who advised the Bush administration’s DOT
transition team in 2001, and Brett Thompson of the International
Government Relations Group, a firm run by his former boss, ex-Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO).
The other lobbyists reporting work for AASHTO this year are William Malley
of Perkins Coie, whose experience lies in environmental review of
infrastructure projects, and Kathy Ruffalo-Farnsworth, a veteran
staffer for members of both parties who helped craft the 2005 federal transportation bill before Congress appointed her to serve on a high-profile commission that examined the system’s financing challenges.
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA),
which represents local transit agencies as well as companies involved
in transit networks, reported $21 million in annual revenue in its most
recent IRS filing.
APTA spent $720,000 on in-house
lobbying during the first half of this year, according to its
congressional disclosures — more than double the amount AASHTO spent
on outside consultants.
APTA also reported one outside contract with Ruffalo-Farnsworth and another with Clyburn Consulting, a firm
led by William Clyburn Jr., former vice chairman of the national
Surface Transportation Board and the cousin of House Majority Whip
James Clyburn (D-SC).