Last week I wrote about the dishonest video Delta released calling for government to crack down on foreign competitors, redistributing income from passengers to the largest U.S. airlines.
Delta was honest about its goal: to make lower airfares illegal.
I broke down the context of why the video is dishonest, including the subsidies that American, United, and Delta have gotten from the U.S. government while complaining that it’s unfair for the most profitable airlines in the world to have to compete against much smaller rivals (at a time when airline employment is at historic highs).
What I didn’t realize is that there’s another element to the dishonesty of Delta’s campaign: the airline emphasizes the bipartisan support they have in Congress for their position. Members of Congress are writing letters of support.
Except that it’s lobbyists for Delta, American, and United that are writing the letters in the first place. Delta lobbyists write letters, and then Delta uses those letters to claim broad-based support for their position. Clever.
Politico reports that letters from Members of Congress calling for action against the Gulf carriers are actually being ghostwritten by lobbyists. (HT: Joe H.)
Nearly every member of the Illinois congressional delegation sent a letter last week to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross urging them to crack down on three Gulf airlines for violating “Open Skies” agreements.
…If the letter sounds like it could have been written by a United lobbyist, that’s because it was. A draft copy of the letter obtained by POLITICO shows Adam Hepburn, a United lobbyist, as the author. The draft copy is almost identical to the final letter. Isaac Sancken, a spokesman for Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), who took the lead in assembling support for the letter, confirmed that United wrote the letter and that American and Delta were involved as well.
The last person to modify another draft intended to be signed by the Congressional delegation from Texas was a lobbyist engaged by American Airlines.
None of this is surprising given the stranglehold that the big airlines have over the House Transportation Committee.
But if you didn’t already understand that this is a crony capitalist play, with big airlines using their influence over Members of Congress to benefit themselves at the expense of consumers, the fact that the statements of Members are literally being written for them by United, American, Delta the change history in a Word document appears to prove it.