Voters Question Whether Shuster Serves his District or Airline Lobbyists
Washington, DC – Last night, Congressman Shuster’s constituents nearly grounded him as concerns erupt over his constant efforts to put the policy priorities of airline lobbyists ahead of the needs of his constituents. Congressman Bill Shuster managed to eke out a narrow victory over his Pennsylvania primary opponent, Art Halvorson, by just over 1,000 votes. Yet his constituents made clear with this narrowest of wins that his conflicts of interests won’t be tolerated in DC or at home.
“Last night once again reinforces the idea that Congressman Shuster isn’t just out of step with fellow members of Congress, but also the constituents he represents,” said Americans Against Air Traffic Privatization Spokesperson Julia Alschuler. “No more will they tolerate his lobbyists first, consumers last policy. His refusal to listen to his Congressional colleagues continuing to raise concerns about the fees and layoffs Air Traffic Control privatization would bring was met with clear and growing resistance back in his district.”
In 2014, Shuster defeated Halvorson in the Republican primary by nearly 20-percent. Shuster recently introduced legislation to privatize the Air Traffic Control system, a proposal that would hand over majority control of the nations system to the airline industry, raising travel fees and cutting jobs across the country.
This isn’t the first time Shuster has found himself in hot water recently. Just this past March, a DailyKos petition calling on Shuster to resign received 25,000 signatures.
Here is what’s being said about the primary election:
Shuster survives primary scare | Politico | Jake Sherman
- Washington Republicans were on alert all evening, worried they would lose a senior committee chairman close to the leadership. Senior GOP lawmakers and aides were under the impression that Shuster – the House Transportation and Infrastructure chairman – would win resoundingly.
- And Shuster acted like he was taking the race seriously, spending $720,000 in the first four months of 2016, not including assistance from outside groups who ran ads on his behalf.
GOP Rep. Bill Shuster Narrowly Survives GOP Primary Challenge | Huffington Post | Igor Bobic
- Halvorson, a retired Coast Guard captain backed by the Tea Party, seized on Shuster’s romantic involvement with a top airline lobbyist, citing it as evidence of “collusion” between lawmakers and special interests in Washington. He even went so far as to call the relationship “criminal,” criticizing the House Ethics Committee for not opening an investigation into the matter.
- To get a sense of the magnitude of Tuesday’s primary result, it’s important to note that Shuster walloped Halvorson in the 2014 primary for the 9th Congressional District, 53 percent to 34 percent.
- As chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the 15-year veteran of Congress wielded enormous influence over the airline industry. Shuster repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, stating he and the woman, a lobbyist for Airlines for America, only maintained “a private and personal relationship.”
- As HuffPost reported in February, however, the FAA reauthorization bill that emerged out of Shuster’s committee contained a sweetheart deal for Airlines for America.
Congressman Bill Shuster claims win, Halvorson holds out hope | Chambersburg Public Opinion | Jim Hook
- Shuster’s campaign committee spent $1.7 million on his bid for re-election, more than 10 times what Halvorson spent. Shuster also got $200,000 in an independent ad campaign from the American Action Network Super PAC.
- “We predicted it would be knife edge, one vote,” Halvorson said as he watched results. “This is as grassroots as it gets.”
House Republican Bill Shuster secures re-election bid for congressional district | PennLive.com | Ivey DeJesus
- Last year, he came under scrutiny for dating a top lobbyist for the leading U.S. airline trade association amid high-stakes negotiations to overhaul the Federal Aviation Administration.