Transit Union Apologizes to Senate After Campaign-Finance Flap

The United Transportation Union (UTU) is moving quickly to smooth over relations with the Senate Commerce Committee after sparking bipartisan ire with a claim that a former UTU counsel won a presidential nomination thanks in part to the union’s political contributions.

Elliott_Daniel.jpgObama administration nominee Dan Elliott (Photo: UTU)

The UTU released a document last month asserting that the White House’s nomination of Dan Elliott to the Surface Transportation Board — as well as that of Joe Szabo to lead the Federal Railroad Administration — "is tribute to the political influence of the UTU, which flows from the UTU PAC [political action committee]."

The suggestion of political influence drew harsh remarks yesterday during the Commerce panel’s debate on the Elliott nomination, with committee chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) calling UTU’s remarks "embarrassing, ridiculous, self-aggrandizing, inappropriate, harmful, and a few other words."

UTU President Mike Futhey sent a letter of apology to Rockefeller and his GOP counterpart, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX), late yesterday.

"[T]he statement that appears to attribute Mr. Elliott’s nomination to the influence of UTU PAC was not in any way appropriate and is certainly not an accurate reflection of the facts surrounding his nomination," Futhey wrote.

The UTU, affiliated with the AFL-CIO, represents more than 100,000 rail and transit workers across North America.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Would Dems’ Pledge for “Change” Bring Transportation Reform?

|
Hillary Clinton ad now airing in Southern California  This is part two of a two-part series on where candidates for president stand on transportation issues, authored by Streetsblog Los Angeles correspondent Damien Newton. Damien currently runs the blog Street Heat, which is soon to become Streetsblog L.A., our first foray into foreign territory. Damien was […]

Congress Takes a First Step Towards Reshaping Transportation Policy

|
Could Washington’s long, unhealthy love affair with the automobile be coming to an end? An encouraging sign of change came today from two powerful Democratic senators who released a proposal that sets out progressive goals for the upcoming federal transportation bill. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) (Photo by Washington Post) Today’s proposal, sponsored […]

Senate Agrees on $26.8 Billion Highway Trust Fund Rescue

|
The Senate took a major step forward last night in its battle with the House over transportation funding, releasing a plan to give $26.8 billion to the dwindling highway trust fund and — perhaps most importantly, for the long term — to restore the fund’s ability to keep the interest it earns. Senate Finance Committee […]

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, Rail Promoter, Announces Retirement

|
Yesterday afternoon, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, announced that Frank Lautenberg would return as chair of the committee’s Surface Transportation, & Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, & Security Subcommittee. This afternoon at 2:00 p.m., Lautenberg issued a statement that “improving passenger and high-speed rail service in America and on the Northeast Corridor is […]