Transportation Department Accused Of Lobbying For Auto Industry

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Another proud moment in government brought to you by the Bush administration: the Department of Transportation has been accused of working as an auto lobby.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), who heads the Committee on on Oversight and Government Reform, sent DOT Secretary Mary E. Peters a letter today requesting more information on a voicemail message received by a member of Congress that implicates the agency in a lobbying effort. The message left by Heideh Shahmoradi, an aide at the Transportation Department, urges the unnamed official to take a stand on California’s move to enforce tougher carbon emission standards because “this would greatly impact the auto facilities” in the member’s district.

Waxman wants Shahmoradi deposed for the committee and copies of all documentation related to the incident. He wrote:

It is not an appropriate use of federal resources to lobby members of Congress to oppose state efforts to protect the environment. It is especially problematic on an issue that is pending for decision before the Administration and that is supposed to be decided based on an independent assessment of the merits. At the very least, Ms. Shamoradi’s call suggests the presence of an improper hidden agenda.

Waxman’s letter, which includes a full transcript of the voicemail message, is available here.