WHOOPS: House Transportation Committee Chairman is Dating Airline Lobbyist

The next time you want government to ‘do something’ to protect you from the airlines, consider how likely it is that anything they do will actually get written in a way to accomplish that (assuming such a thing were even possible).

Congressman Bill Shuster and House Transportation Committee Chair — son of former Congressman and House Transportation Committee Chair Bud Shuster — has been having an affair since last summer with the Airlines for America Vice President for Global Government Affairs. (Affairs. Get it?)

Airlines for America, the trade group for major US carriers, has been aware of the relationship and promises that she does not lobby Congressman Shuster, they don’t need to, since their President is so close to the Chairman already.

There is, apparently, nothing against the rules about this.

House ethics rules do not prohibit Shuster from working on issues affecting A4A. Conflict-of-interest rules don’t prohibit family members, including spouses, from lobbying lawmakers, although members are barred from taking action on an issue in which they have a direct financial stake. Other romantic relationships are not addressed in the House Ethics Manual.

Somewhat ironically (or not) former Congressman Bud Shuster resigned his seat amidst a scandal over gifts involving a lobbyist. That’s when Bill Shuster won his seat, and apparently went on to develop a reputation for carousing with lobbyists.

It isn’t the first time Bill Shuster’s personal interactions with female lobbyists have been an issue. He was said to be among a half-dozen congressmen then-Minority Leader Boehner spoke to about partying with female lobbyists at a Capitol Hill townhouse, according to news reports in 2010.

For what it’s worth, Shuster’s Chief of Staff is married to the Airlines for America Senior Vice President of Government Relations.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Love the “affairs” gibe but you couldn’t work “in bed together” into your article? Very disappointed Gary…

  2. This happens all the time in Washington. Don’t really see anything newsworthy, unless laws or rules are being broken (which, according to the article isn’t being done). Big yawn, IMO.

  3. @Brian L – not illegal. That’s not the scandal. Understanding how government works and using that to frame your expectations for policy is the point of the post, that’s how I opened it. That you yawn at this underscores the point I’m trying to make — this is not out of the ordinary, this is business as usual, and that should inform your model of government.

  4. I believe the yawn was because we expect politicians to behave that way and understand quite well how policy is made. Your story was just another confirmation

  5. Thanks for this post, and I agree with Gary’s reply to Brian L. It is a shame that many see nothing wrong with these relationships or are bored (not alarmed) when they are revealed. When junk like this goes on in other countries we call it corruption.

  6. He is divorced. I don’t think “having an affair” is typically used in such cases. Wasn’t Tom Daschle’s wife an airline lobbyist when he was Senate Majority Leader?

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