When David Strickland announced last month that he was stepping down as the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, he didn’t give any clues about where he might be going. The news came out this week: The nation’s top auto regulator is going to be a lobbyist at a law firm that deals with auto regulation, raising concerns that he’s going through the revolving door between the public and private sector, more to the benefit of industry than the public.
At Venable, LLP — also known for fighting the government moratorium on offshore drilling after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster — Strickland will work on government relations (a fancy term for lobbying) as part of the firm’s regulatory group, which represents many major automakers on a variety of matters — “including some before NHTSA,” as The Detroit News notes.
In an interview with the LegalTimes blog, Strickland said he’s excited to work on legal issues surrounding self-driving cars and other emerging technologies.
Venable’s Venerable Clients in the Automotive Industry
Venable represents the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the National Auto Auction Association, the National Automotive Finance Association, and other industry groups — and those are just the nonprofits, which are the only clients Venable lists publicly. Consumer Affairs notes that “Venable has billed $1.1 million for its services to Chrysler over the last five years.”
“Venable’s automotive industry attorneys represent auto industry players in litigation and transactions work across the country,” the law firm’s website boasts. “We have been part of the industry for years, and we have worked through every industry issue with every type of industry player.”
The firm claims credit for “winning the 10-year environmental battle to build Utah’s Legacy Parkway,” helping UDOT get wetlands and other permits to build a four-lane highway along the Great Salt Lake despite court challenges by concerned environmental groups.