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.

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