GOP Transportation Chair Admits To Romantic Relationship With Airline Lobbyist

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April 16, 2015 4:44 p.m.

The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is literally in bed with the airline lobby.

Politico reported Thursday that Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) has been dating a top lobbyist for a U.S. airline trade association since last summer, citing multiple anonymous sources familiar with their relationship.

In a statement to the publication, Shuster acknowledged a “private and personal relationship” with Shelley Rubino, vice president for global government affairs for Airlines for America.

Shuster isn’t running afoul of any ethics rules by dating Rubino, according to Politico. But the committee led by the congressman is currently hammering out legislation that could completely revamp the Federal Aviation Administration — and Rubino’s firm naturally has a vested interest in that legislation.

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The congressman said in his statement to Politico that “Ms. Rubino doesn’t lobby my office, including myself and my staff.” It appears that nothing prevents Rubino from lobbying other members of the transportation committee, however.

An anonymous official with Airlines for America told Politico that the trade organization has discussed Rubino and Shuster’s relationship with outside counsel.

Shuster divorced his wife of two decades last year, according to the report. But his familiarity with Rubino dates back to her time working as a Democratic congressional aide. Shuster provided a statement for a 2012 news release announcing Rubino’s move to Airlines for America from former Rep. John Larson’s (D-CT) office.

“I have worked with Shelley and Chairman Larson’s office for the past few years and I have always found her to be hardworking, capable and bipartisan in her approach to issues,” Shuster said at the time, as quoted by Politico. “I think Shelley will be a tremendous addition to the A4A team that Nick Calio is building.”

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