October 16, 2000
The Honorable Lamar Smith, Chairman
The Honorable Howard Berman, Ranking Member
House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct
U. S. House of Representatives
HT-2, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Berman:RE: Request to Re-Open the Ethics Investigation of Representative E. G. "Bud" Shuster
On October 5, 2000, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct ("Ethics Committee") issued a report ("Report") In the Matter of Representative E. G. "Bud" Shuster,(1)Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure. This letter constitutes a formal request to the Ethics Committee to re-open its investigation of Chairman Shuster, based on new information about his conduct and other related materials.
We provide this information to prompt the
Ethics Committee to appoint or re-appoint an investigative subcommittee.
Ethics Committee Rule 19(a) states that "the Committee may consider any
information in its possession indicating that a Member...may have committed
a violation of the Code of Official Conduct or any law, rule, regulation,
or other standard of conduct applicable to the conduct of such Member...in
the performance of his or her duties or the discharge of his or her responsibilities."
On September 5, 1996, the Congressional Accountability Project filed an ethics complaint against Chairman Shuster.(2) In that complaint, we asked the Ethics Committee to investigate whether the legislative, political, financial and personal ties that bind Chairman Shuster to Ann Eppard enable corporate and wealthy interests to procure special influence from Chairman Shuster by hiring Eppard and her lobbying firm, Ann Eppard Associates Ltd. Following is a brief outline of the ties between Shuster and Eppard:A: The Ethics Committee Should Investigate Whether the Shuster-Eppard Partnership Is An Influence-Peddling Scheme
For example, following the passage of the massive $218 billion Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) highway bill(3), The Washington Post reported:
Legal Times had a similar assessment of Eppard's lobbying prowess:While it is impossible to determine exactly how many projects reflect her work, at least 10 specific provisions in the bill represent lobbying victories for her firm, Ann Eppard Associates Ltd. From posting signs for a yet-unbuilt interstate highway in Texas to earmarking $12 million for research into emergency response systems, Eppard has delivered for clients across the nation.(4)
Transportation lobbyist Ann Eppard won't talk about her advocacy victories in the massive highway and transportation bill that passed the House last week. But it certainly looks as if her clients made out very well in the battle over the $218 billion legislation.
A Journal of Commerce editorial noted that the TEA-21 bill was "chock-full...of goodies for Ms. Eppard's clients."(6)In fact, the highway bill, which has been blasted by many as a pork feast, is sprinkled with provisions that benefit Eppard's clients....All in all, it's been a banner year for Eppard...(5)
During its investigation of Chairman Shuster, the Ethics Committee's Investigative Subcommittee In the Matter of Bud Shuster ("Investigative Subcommittee") itself uncovered evidence of Eppard's powerful influence over Chairman Shuster and the federal transportation budget. For example, the head of Daniel, Mann, Johnson and Mendenhall's (DMJM) Tren Urbano project in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Gilbert Butler, wrote in a memorandum:
Ray Holdsworth attempted to telephone you this morning but was unable to reach you. He has asked me to write you that he is embarrassed to learn from Ann Eppard that she is still not under any form of contract through John Cahill. Ann is also publicly embarrassed because she told Congressman Shuster and others on the hill that she was under contract which was an important aspect in obtaining the $15 million appropriation.
An Appendix to this letter documents fourteen examples of how Chairman Shuster has helped or championed the interests of Ann Eppard's clients. That record clearly shows that hiring Eppard as a lobbyist likely means enlisting the support of Chairman Shuster. It sends a message to prospective favor-seekers that if they are to win legislative provisions from Chairman Shuster, they should retain Ann Eppard. Such influence for hire erodes the integrity of the legislative process. We urge the Ethics Committee to find that Chairman Shuster's dispensing of special favors and benefits for Eppard's clients is influence-peddling, and as such, a violation of the House Code of Official Conduct:We are concerned that John Cahill's nonresponsiveness with Ann Eppard, thus the Republican side, could significantly jeopardize the $15 million in committee as well as losing ISTEA reauthorization next year.(7) (Emphasis added.)
These examples of special favors and benefits provided by Chairman Shuster to Ann Eppard's clients, and the implication of influence-peddling, are heightened by a report from CBS News program 60 Minutes yesterday that found that Chairman Shuster has repeatedly stayed at Eppard's home.A Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House shall conduct himself at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.(8)
The 60 Minutes segment underscores the close nature of the relationship between Shuster and Eppard. According to 60 Minutes,
The Ethics Committee should probe whether the legislative, political, financial and personal ties between Chairman Shuster and Eppard enable corporations and other special interests to procure legislative benefits from Chairman Shuster by hiring Eppard as a lobbyist.On the eleven very early mornings when we watched last spring, she [Eppard] drove out of her garage with the Congressman [Shuster] hiding -- lying down on her back seat. She'd make several turns and when she thought no one was watching they'd both get out. She'd walk back home, while Shuster...would drive her car to Capitol Hill.(9) [Emphasis in original.]
The 60 Minutes report on Shuster and Eppard raises questions about whether Eppard is providing Chairman Shuster with improper gifts of housing. The use of a home is plainly an "item having monetary value" within the meaning of the House Gift Rule. The Gift Rule explicitly includes "lodging" in its definition of the term "gift."B: The Ethics Committee Should Investigate Whether Chairman Shuster Has Violated the House Gift Rule By Receiving Lodging, Use of a Car, or Other Gifts from Ann Eppard
60 Minutes also found that Shuster regularly drives Eppard's car to Capitol Hill. That, too, appears to be a gift -- the use of a vehicle -- from Eppard to Chairman Shuster. The Ethics Committee should investigate what, if any, other gifts Eppard provides to Shuster.
According to the Ethics Committee Report, Chairman Shuster and Eppard have known one another since the late 1960's. Because of their longstanding relationship, despite her status as a registered lobbyist, gifts from her to him may qualify for the personal friendship exemption under the House Gift Rule. However, the Rule states that a Member or staff person may not accept a gift exceeding $250 in value on the basis of the personal friendship exception unless the Ethics Committee issues a written determination that the exception applies.(10)
The Ethics Committee should determine whether
Chairman Shuster has violated the House Gift Rule by accepting these gifts
of housing and transportation, as well as any other possible gifts.
C: The Ethics Committee Should Investigate Whether Chairman Shuster Provided False or Misleading Testimony During the Ethics Investigation
Yesterday's 60 Minutes report documenting Shuster's frequent stays at Eppard's home raises questions about whether Chairman Shuster provided false or misleading testimony to the Ethics Committee.
In an affidavit for the Ethics Committee, dated November 5, 1997, Chairman Shuster attested that:
Similarly, in a letter to then-Ethics Committee Chairwoman Nancy Johnson, Chairman Shuster wrote:On special occasions, and on the instances when my wife or other members of my family were in town, we would stay either in our town house or at Mrs. Eppard's. During this entire period, I have been aware of the applicable House Rules, and have complied with them. I never received personal hospitality for more than thirty days in a calendar year, or three consecutive days at anyone's home in violation of the applicable rules.(11)
Neither of these statements explicitly refer to any time after November, 1997. But the implication is clear: that Chairman Shuster is stating that he did not regularly lodge with Eppard. Two possibilities now arise regarding false or misleading statements. The first is that Chairman Shuster had been regularly lodging with Eppard all along, and that both the affidavit and letter to Chairwoman Johnson were false. Such a false statement could be punishable under 18 U.S.C. §1001, which prohibits lying to a committee or subcommittee of Congress that is conducting an investigation. The second is that the above statements were true, but that Chairman Shuster did not apprise the Committee that he had begun to regularly lodge with Eppard after November, 1997. If so, that would have been an attempt to deceive the Investigative Subcommittee, which is a violation of the House Code of Official Conduct:Since I was fully cognizant of the Rules, from the time they became applicable to Ann in November 1994, I, or my family, never stayed at her house for more than three consecutive days nor for more than 30 days in a given year.(12)
This is not the only instance of apparently false or misleading testimony by Chairman Shuster. The Ethics Committee's Report explained that Chairman Shuster advanced dubious claims about his conversations with former Ethics Committee staff Edward Hosken:A Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House shall conduct himself at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.(13)
The Ethics Committee states that it feels duped regarding Chairman Shuster's request for act of production immunity in exchange for providing unredacted copies of his personal calendars. The Ethics Committee writes in its Report:Representative Shuster's failure to produce any notes or other evidence to support his claims, combined with the credible testimony of Mr. Hosken that he was unaware of the full extent and nature of Representative Shuster's contact with Ms. Eppard during this period, raised doubts about the accuracy of Representative Shuster's claims that he was acting in accordance with advice he received from Committee counsel.
Finally, in its Letter of Reproval to Chairman Shuster, the Ethics Committee notes that:The Investigative Subcommittee remains very troubled as to why Representative Shuster and his attorneys continued to assert up through February 24, 2000, in papers to the Investigative Subcommittee that materials had been redacted for national security reasons when in fact this does not appear to have been the case. This remains important to the Investigative Subcommittee because Representative Shuster's assertion of national security and the attorney-client privilege were material reasons in the Subcommittee's recommendation that Representative Shuster receive act of production immunity....In summary, the Investigative Subcommittee took the unprecedented step of recommending that the full Committee grant limited immunity for a sitting Member of Congress based on assertions by the Member's counsel that proved to be less than compelling when the documents were finally produced.(14)
The Ethics Committee should determine whether Chairman Shuster provided statements and testimony that were false or misleading. Such a finding would warrant serious punishment by the Ethics Committee.The Committee finds the Views submitted by you, through your counsel, to be rife with patently inaccurate and misleading statements of the applicable laws, rules, standards of conduct and Committee guidance.(15)
The Ethics Committee should look to the
precedent of the Matter of Representative Newt Gingrich, in which the U.S.
House of Representatives fined then-Speaker Gingrich $300,000 and reprimanded
him for, among other things, making statements to the Ethics Committee
that were "inaccurate, incomplete and unreliable."(16)
On January 11, 1999, Roll Call reported that Representative Shuster had received gifts of vacations and meals from businessmen and lobbyists who wanted his assistance.D: The Ethics Committee Should Investigate Whether Chairman Shuster Has Accepted Improper Gifts or Illegal Gratuities from Boston Favor-Seekers
House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bud Shuster (R-Pa.) spent long summer weekends at opulent Cape Cod townhomes with the woman who was then his chief of staff at the expense of a convicted Boston businessman seeking favors in the early 1990s, according to court documents filed in Boston.
Shuster and Eppard, for example, spent four days at a $1.4 million waterfront townhome in Cape Cod in August 1990 that was provided by Boston parking lot magnate Richard Goldberg.
The vacation home, which included a wine cellar, a billiard room and an oversized Jacuzzi with heated towel racks, is the same home that led to the 1996 downfall of then-Massachusetts House Speaker Charles Flaherty (D), who resigned amid a scandal that began with gifts from Goldberg.
Goldberg pleaded guilty in April 1997 to illegally giving Flaherty free use of the very same house that Eppard and Shuster stayed in during August 1990.
The house, located in Cotuit, rented for about $12,000 a month and federal prosecutors calculated the worth of the four-day stay at $1,380, according to the documents. The records allocate half that total, or $690, to Eppard and noted that there were just two people, Eppard and Shuster, in the party.
Shuster and Eppard returned in 1991 to a Hyannisport, Mass., vacation home rented by Goldberg, according to the documents. But this time they were joined by another couple - Vernon Clark, a Washington, D.C., lobbyist for the billboard industry, and Patty McNally, the former Senate deputy Sergeant-at- Arms who was engaged in an extramarital affair with Clark.
This three-day jaunt was valued at $1,161 by prosecutors, who assessed Eppard one-fourth of that total, or $290.
Neither Shuster nor Eppard reported the trips or lodging on their 1990 or 1991 financial disclosure reports. The Ethics in Government Act bars the acceptance of gifts worth more than $250.
In July 1992, a weekend stay was provided by a billboard company, Ackerley Communications, which had close business ties to Goldberg.
From July 17 through July 20, 1992, Ackerley paid for expenses during an Eppard and Shuster weekend stay in New Seabury, Mass. Ackerley paid for three items, including $78 for groceries at the Super Stop 'N' Shop in Falmouth, a $786 tab at the Regatta Restaurant, also in Falmouth, and $273 in alcohol from Kappy's Liquors of Falmouth. The exhibits noted the size of the party to be eight people.
Shuster's 1992 financial disclosure forms did report a July 18 to 20 trip to Boston paid for by Ackerley Communications and indicated that it included lodging and food.
Gifts also came from another Boston businessman, Nicholas Contos, owner of the No Name Restaurant, who hired Clark at Goldberg's urging in a related land dispute with the state. Contos, according to sources, has been given immunity in exchange for his testimony against Eppard.
But the bulk of gratuities outlined in the new documents came from billboard lobbyist Clark, who treated Shuster and Eppard to grandiose meals at ornate hotels and restaurants, some times in large groups but also in cozier settings with just two or three people present.
For example, on May 4, 1990, a $374 dinner for three, including Eppard and Shuster, at Pisces Restaurant at Georgetown Station was recorded on Clark's expense statement for lobbying expenses provided to Goldberg and Contos. Another dinner for three that included Shuster and Eppard, at the Hyatt Regency in Washington, D.C., cost $324, according to Clark's expense statements logged in the government exhibits.
In a follow-up article, Roll Call reported that:On Jan. 14, 1993, a banquet in honor of Shuster was held at the Ritz- Carlton Hotel at a cost of $13,000, and Contos paid $3,000 towards the gala, according to the documents.(17)
When federal prosecutors in Boston indicted transportation lobbyist Ann Eppard last year on public corruption charges, they cited meetings she held in 1994 with top Massachusetts transportation officials on behalf of a Boston businessman engaged in a land dispute with the state.
Those meetings, which occurred while Eppard was a Congressional aide, would be an essential element in the government's illegal gratuities case, as they appeared to constitute an official act done in return for gifts. And new evidence filed in the case documents the details of such a meeting, held over dinner just a few blocks from the Capitol at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on May 25, 1994, with a tab totaling $1,131.
But the evidence also discloses for the first time that Eppard's boss at the time, Rep. Bud Shuster (R-Pa.), was also present at the dinner.
The evidence directly links Shuster, currently chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, with one of the official acts the federal government charged Eppard with performing on behalf of a Boston restaurant owner who supplied thousands of dollars in gifts, trips and donations to both Eppard and Shuster.(18)
Since many of these gifts of vacations and meals occurred in the early 1990's, they fall outside the Ethics Committee's guidelines that it "generally will not undertake an investigation of an alleged violation that occurred before the third previous Congress."(19)
We ask the Ethics Committee to waive this provision because if the Committee had obtained these materials from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Boston in 1996, when we filed our ethics complaint, all of the above events would have fallen within the scope of the "third previous Congress" provision.
Finally, we urge the Ethics Committee to
determine whether Chairman Shuster had appropriately disclosed these gifts
on his financial disclosure forms.
On October 5, 2000 -- the day the Ethics Committee released its Report -- Chairman Shuster made a remarkable speech on the House Floor that downplayed the Ethics Committee's Report and Letter of Reproval as merely demonstrating the appearance of impropriety, not impropriety itself.E: The Ethics Committee Should Determine Chairman Shuster Has Violated His Agreement With the Ethics Committee by Undermining the Statement of Alleged Violation
Chairman Shuster's floor speech may violate an agreement between the Investigative Subcommittee and Chairman Shuster not to subvert the Statement of Alleged Violation. The Report states:
The Investigative Subcommittee instructed Representative Shuster, and Representative Shuster has agreed, that in his response to this Report, as part of its negotiated settlement, Representative Shuster cannot undermine the Statement of Alleged Violation.
On the House Floor, Shuster claimed that:
I am very pleased that not a single allegation, not a scintilla of evidence, not a hint of any of this [conduct referred to in the Letter of Reproval] referred to any actions that I took that influenced my activities as chairman of my committee.
It is also a matter of public record that the chairman of the investigation committee and I have had bad blood over the years, largely, although not exclusively, over the fact that I refused to block a 6-runway which he wanted killed for his airport. At the time, people came to me and said `you should object under the rules to that gentleman being chairman of the subcommittee.' I said absolutely not. I said then that gentleman is an honorable gentleman, and I said now that gentleman is an honorable gentleman. So I agreed for us to proceed under those rules.
* * * * *
I accept the findings to stop the hemorrhaging of legal fees and to put this behind us.(20)
In a notable passage, Chairman Shuster claimed to have investigated the campaign spending of his fellow Members of Congress, which can be read as a veiled threat of blackmail:
The Ethics Committee should determine whether these statements violated Chairman Shuster's agreement not to undermine the Statement of Alleged Violation.Now, if our practices created the appearance of impropriety, our attorneys at one point said, wait a minute, these are common practices. I said, well, I thought they were, but maybe they are not. So our attorneys initiated investigations into the FEC reports as well as the ethics report of 35 Members of Congress, both sides of the aisle, particularly Members of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct and the leadership in the Congress to see whether these practices were also conducted by other Members of the Congress. And, indeed, they discovered that in a vast majority of the cases, meals, with the full range of Washington restaurants, Mr. K's, Red Sage, Morton's, Capitol Grill, were paid for by campaign expenses. The Palm, the MCI Center, private clubs, golfing expenses; all paid for with campaign expenses. Entertainment, music, florists, commercial airfare.(21)
The ethics probe of Chairman Shuster was marred by a key procedural mistake: the failure to appoint non-partisan, impartial outside counsel to conduct the investigation. Because of the inescapable conflict of interest involved in probing a powerful House Member, we strongly urge you to appoint outside counsel to investigate the matters contained in this letter.(22)F: Conclusion
While the Committee chose not to grant leave to the Congressional Accountability Project in 1997 to amend the original ethics complaint against Chairman Shuster, it chose to investigate the matters contained in the amendment, when those materials were submitted to the Ethics Committee as information within the meaning of Ethics Committee Rule 19(a). That was an laudable precedent, even if the materials were not investigated by outside counsel. The information above is also provided to the Committee under Rule 19(a), and we hope that the Ethics Committee will choose investigate it too.
The Ethics Committee must not avoid its duty to undertake a thorough probe of the Shuster-Eppard partnership and the ways that special interests exploit it to obtain legislative favors. Without such a probe, the American people will conclude that the sale of influence is legal and proper in Congress, with the blessings of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.
Following are examples of how House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bud Shuster has helped or championed the interests of Ann Eppard's clients.
PAY BACK. Ann Eppard, the ex-chief of staff/lobbyist/landlord for House Transportation Sultan Bud Shuster, is working for United Airlines. It shows. One day after UAL and Eppard announced their alliance, Shuster's Transportation and Infrastructure Committee announced it would hold two days of hearings on the UAL-US Airways combination. Not one day of hearings, mind you, two days. That's lobbying.(23)
The Airports Council International-North America, a low-key association representing the people who operate airports, scored a coup last year in its fight to increase ticket fees by signing up Eppard, a lobbyist with close ties to Rep. Bud Shuster (R-Pa.), the powerful chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Eppard had been representing United Airlines until she abruptly terminated that relationship with the airline in January 1998. Two months after the ACI- NA inked a contract with Eppard, Shuster reversed his opposition to an increase and pushed through an aviation bill that allowed the fees - called passenger facility charges - to double.(24)
Carnival Cruise Lines reported in court papers filed today that its crew members were accused of sexually assaulting passengers and fellow workers aboard its ships 62 times in the five years that ended last August, a rate of nearly one a month.(25)
In 1996, Carnival tried to limit its liability arising from these incidents, and obtained the services of Eppard. According to Time Magazine,
The amendment was finally defeated, despite the support of Chairman Shuster.(27)It seems Eppard worked with a lobbyist who represents Carnival Cruise Lines and its trade group to get Shuster's support for a "technical amendment" to the Coast Guard reauthorization bill. Tacked on at the last minute by a member of Shuster's committee, the amendment would, among other things, but most distastefully, shield cruise-line companies from lawsuits by women who are raped aboard their ships. Its wording allows the lines to escape liability for emotional distress and other noneconomic injuries as long as those injuries don't result from what is referred to as "substantial physical injury."(26)
The [liquor] industry also retained Ann Eppard, a former top aide to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bud Shuster (R-Pa.) and now a transportation lobbyist, to help kill the [highway safety] measure.
The Washington Post reported that EppardBut Shuster rejected the tougher standards in a version of the highway bill that he pushed through his committee earlier this week, saying he prefers to use economic incentives rather than threats of sanctions to encourage states to adopt the 0.08 standard and other traffic safety rules.(28)
The Boston Globe explained the liquor industry's lobbying as follows:was the "eyes and ears" for the alcohol industry's attempt to effectively gut a proposed national drunken driving standard, according to a person familiar with the lobby campaign. Rather than adopting the Senate's plan to make federal funds contingent on states imposing a 0.08 percent blood alcohol limit, Shuster's bill offered a variety of incentives encouraging them to do so.(29)
The lobby's strategy soon became clear. As long as Shuster continued to oppose lowering the drunken-driving limit, it had little chance. So the American Beverage Institute hired a new lobbyist - Ann Eppard, Shuster's former chief of staff described as his "right hand.".... Shuster agreed with his longtime aide about the drunken-driving measure and wanted to kill it.....In the end, with Shuster leading the conference committee, the drunken-driving measure was killed without a vote.(30)
As the House this week considers a measure to reauthorize Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, among the most interested onlookers will be the private freight rail companies, which could benefit greatly from an obscure provision in the bill.
That item, inserted by members of the House Transportation Committee, would limit for the first time the amount of damages companies like CSX and the Union Pacific Corporation could incur for people injured by the companies' negligence -- even if it was deliberate. And, even more important, those costs would be paid in most cases by Amtrak and ultimately the public treasury.
An example of how lucrative this provision could be for the freight companies may be seen in a Florida jury's decision last July to award about $56 million to the family of a man killed in a 1991 Amtrak derailment on a CSX track. The judge said at the trial that CSX, which was found to be at fault for failing to maintain the track, had displayed a "callous indifference" to safety and that the accident could be traced to the more than $2 billion that the company had saved by trimming its spending on safety.
Mr. Shuster and Ms. Molinari were principal supporters of the [liability] provision.
Union Pacific, another potential beneficiary of the provision, has paid a lobbyist $90,000 in the last six months to lobby for the bill. That lobbyist, Ann Eppard, is a former chief of staff for Congressman Shuster.(31)
Working on behalf of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, for example, Eppard helped secure $20 million in funding for the Mon-Fayette Expressway.(32)
After hiring Ms. Eppard last year -- and paying her firm about $20,000 more in 1998 -- the Calspan-UB effort won $12 million in the highway bill to establish a new Center for Transportation Injury Research.(33)
Opponents of a sixth runway at DIA [Denver International Airport] say the city used a controversial lobbyist to overcome a 3-year-old ban on federal funding of the project. Denver officials deny using lobbyist Ann Eppard, who was indicted in April on influence-peddling charges that are unrelated to Denver International Airport.
Last month, U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, abruptly announced that he was lifting a ban on federal money for the $ 85 million runway. The ban was aimed at forcing Denver to address noise problems at DIA.
Runway opponents said Shuster's action appears to have come at the behest of lobbyist Eppard, who for more than 24 years was Shuster's chief political aide. ''This all has to do with Denver's 'new' lobbyist,'' Rep. Bob Schaffer, a Republican from Fort Collins, said of Eppard. ''The chairman (Shuster) seems to have suddenly developed a passionate interest in the sixth runway. It's unusual that the congressman from Pennsylvania would take such a passionate interest in Denver's airport.''
Denver's lobbyists on DIA issues are the law firm of Reid and Priest, paid $150,000 last year, and Capital Partnerships Inc., which was paid $ 140,000, according to records in the Senate public-documents office. Last year, both firms subcontracted with Eppard. Capital Investments paid Eppard $ 40,000. Reid & Preist anted up $ 20,000.(34)
In a prime example of hardball politics, a former aide to the main dispenser of federal public works brought home some pork for Corpus Christi.
Here's the scoop: When $4 million for bridge work at the Port of Corpus Christi showed up in the new highway bill, the Texas congressional delegation was amazingly silent about who should get credit.
Sen. Phil Gramm, who keeps track of each dime he gets for Texas, could not explain. Neither could U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz, the Corpus Christi congressman. And the $4 million was not in the original bill. It surfaced during 11th-hour House-Senate negotiations.
But Port of Corpus Christi officials, who are smiling like Cheshire cats, know. They hired lobbyist Ann Eppard, reportedly for $8,000 to $10,000 a month, to get it.
But if all that matters is results, Texas' Sparkling City by the Sea got the perfect person to do its bidding in Congress.(35)
"done a pretty good job, from our standpoint," says Ed Wood, a vice president of Barrier Systems Inc. The Carson City, Nev., company makes movable highway barriers that are used to protect construction workers or to create reversible traffic lanes in urban areas.
The House version of the highway bill calls for a Transportation Department study that could lead to a bigger market for the company's products.(36)
New York documentary film producer Ken Mendell, also a client of Eppard's firm, won $3 million to fund a movie about the need for increased infrastructure spending in the United States.(38)
The Harlingen, Texas, Chamber of Commerce hired Ms. Eppard's firm in connection with a bid by south Texas to designate state highways in the Rio Grande Valley as part of the interstate highway system, thus making the roads eligible for more federal dollars.
While the provision guarantees little, it could mean billions for a new Interstate Route 69 in the region.(39)
1. U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, Report in The Matter of Representative E.G. "Bud" Shuster, October 4, 2000. <http://www.house.gov/ethics/Shuster_Report_Cover.htm>.Influential Rep. Bud Shuster may be trying to steer the Department of Transportation from its troubled headquarters to the Portals building, which is a client of his former chief-of-staff.
Mr. Shuster, Pennsylvania Republican, and two senior members of the House Transportation Committee that he chairs spent about 10 minutes at the Portals in Southwest as part of a tour of potential new homes for the Transportation Department, which needs a new lease. The officials also drove slowly past several undeveloped sites, said officials who attended the tour.
The tour revives questions about Mr. Shuster's ties to Ann Eppard, his former chief of staff who was indicted last year on charges of evading federal rules on taking gifts. Miss Eppard, who has a successful lobbying firm in Alexandria, is one of several promoters representing the Portals.(40)
2. Correspondence from Congressional Accountability Project to The Honorable Nancy Johnson, Chairwoman, House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, September 5, 1996 <http://www.essential.org/orgs/CAP/ethics/shuster.html>. See Attachment #1.
3. Public Law 105-178.
4. See Attachment #2, which includes Juliet Eilperin, "Through Alliance With Shuster, Eppard Left Tracks in Highway Bill." The Washington Post, April 11, 1998. William Roberts, "Lobbyist Eppard Wins Projects in Highway Bill." Journal of Commerce, April 14, 1998. Anick Jesdanun, "Former Aide to Rep. Shuster Has Million Dollar Influence." Associated Press (Altoona Mirror), May 12, 1997.
5. Deirdre Shesgreen, "Highway to Riches: A Well-Connected Lobbyist Delivers." Legal Times, April 6, 1998. See Attachment #3.
6. "A Mixed Record." Journal of Commerce, October 22, 1998. See Attachment #4.
7. Memorandum from Gilbert L. Butler, dated July 13, 1995. Exhibit 124 of the Report in the Matter of Representative E.G. "Bud" Shuster. <http://www.house.gov/ethics/jpeg/shex124.jpg>. See Attachment #5.
8. House Rule 24(1) <http://www.house.gov/rules/RXXIV.htm>.
9. Attachment #6 includes a transcript of CBS News program 60 Minutes, October 15, 2000. Claude Marx, "CBS Show Accuses Pa. Congressman." Associated Press, October 15. 2000.
10. "A Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House may not accept a gift the value of which exceeds $250 on the basis of the personal friendship exception in subparagraph (3)(D) unless the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct issues a written determination that such exception applies." House Rule 26 <http://www.house.gov/rules/RXXVI.htm>.
11. Affidavit of Congressman Bud Shuster, November 5, 1997. Exhibit 58 of the Report in the Matter of Representative E.G. "Bud" Shuster. <http://www.house.gov/ethics/jpeg/shex058C.jpg>.
12. Correspondence from Representative Bud Shuster to the Honorable Nancy Johnson, Chair, House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, March 7, 1996. Exhibit 47 of the Report in the Matter of Representative E.G. "Bud" Shuster. <http://www.house.gov/ethics/jpeg/shex047.jpg>.
13. House Rule 24(1) <http://www.house.gov/rules/RXXIV.htm>.
14. Footnote #128 in U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, Report in The Matter of Representative E.G. "Bud" Shuster, October 4, 2000 <http://www.house.gov/ethics/Shuster_Report.htm#footnote128>.
15. Letter of Reproval Issued by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to Representative E. G. "Bud" Shuster, October 4, 2000. <http://www.house.gov/ethics/Shuster_Report_I.htm#letter>.
16. U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, Report In The Matter of Representative Newt Gingrich, January 17, 1997, at 14.
17. Damon Chappie, "Shuster, Eppard Trips Detailed; Court Documents Reveal Expensive Dinners, Vacations." Roll Call, January 11, 1999. See Attachment #7.
18. See Attachment #8, which includes Damon Chappie, "Shuster Was At Key Meeting, Documents Say Prosecutors Say 1994 Meal Critical To Eppard's Indictment." Roll Call, January 14, 1999. Damon Chappie, "Shuster, Lobbyist's Links Detailed Billboard; Group's Clark Had Access At Key Moments." Roll Call, March 1, 1999.
19. House Ethics Manual at 10.
20. Congressional Record, Question of Personal Privilege (House of Representatives - October 5, 2000), pp. H8849-50. See Attachment #9.
21. Congressional Record, Question of Personal Privilege (House of Representatives - October 5, 2000), pp. H8849.
22. Attachment #10 includes correspondence from the Congressional Accountability Project to Subcommittee Chairman Joel Hefley and Ranking Minority Member Zoe Lofgren, November 19, 1997 <http://www.essential.org/orgs/CAP/ethics/shusoutcolet.html>. Correspondence from the Congressional Accountability Project to The Honorable Joel Hefley and The Honorable Zoe Lofgren, June 14, 1999 <http://www.essential.org/orgs/CAP/ethics/shusoutcolet99.html>.
23. "The Back Page." Traffic World, June 19, 2000. See Attachment #11.
24. Damon Chappie, "Eppard Switches Sides Yet Again Move Could Doom Airline Fee Legislation." Roll Call, January 13, 2000. See Attachment #12.
25. Douglas Frantz, "Cruise Line Reports 62 Alleged Sex Assaults Since '93." The New York Times, July 14, 1999. See Attachment #13.
26. Viveca Novak, "Like Ships in the Night." Time Magazine, September 30, 1996. See Attachment #14.
27. News release, "Conyers Fights Special-Interest Giveaways to Foreign Cruise Ship Lobbyists." September 20, 1996. See Attachment #15.
28. Eric Pianin, "Drunken Driving Issue Propels Alcohol Lobby; Clinton, Safety Groups Back Lower Limit." The Washington Post, March 26, 1998. See Attachment #16.
29. Juliet Eilperin, "Through Alliance With Shuster, Eppard Left Tracks in Highway Bill." The Washington Post, April 11, 1998.
30. Michael Kranish, "Tougher Drunken-Driving Rule Ran Into Roadblock in Congress." The Boston Globe, May 22, 1998. See Attachment #17.
31. Neil Lewis, "The Fine Print: A closer look at the Amtrak bill.; Rail Bill Would Benefit Private Freight Companies in Lawsuits." The New York Times, October 22, 1997. See Attachment #18.
32. Juliet Eilperin, "Through Alliance With Shuster, Eppard Left Tracks in Highway Bill." The Washington Post, April 11, 1998.
33. Jerry Zremski, "High-Powered Lobbyist Pays off for Calspan-UB Center." Buffalo News, December 13, 1998. See Attachment #19.
34. Michael Romano, "City Assailed Over DIA Lobbyist; Foes of Sixth Runway Say Insider Was Used to Push for End to Ban on Federal Funding." Rocky Mountain News, July 29, 1998. See Attachment #20.
35. "Bringing Pork to the Port." San Antonio Express-News, June 7, 1998. See Attachment #21.
36. Jim Drinkard, "Transportation Interests Still Knock at Indicted Lobbyists Door." USA Today, April 24, 1998. See Attachment #22.
37. William Roberts, "Lobbyist Eppard Wins Projects in Highway Bill." Journal of Commerce, April 14, 1998.
38. William Roberts, "Lobbyist Eppard Wins Projects in Highway Bill." Journal of Commerce, April 14, 1998. See also Steve Inskeep, "Transportation Bill Challenged." National Public Radio, April 1, 1998. See Attachment #23.
39. William Roberts, "Lobbyist Eppard Wins Projects in Highway Bill." Journal of Commerce, April 14, 1998.
40. Mike Cleary, "Shuster Steers DOT offices to ex-aide's Portals." Washington Times, July 17, 1999. See Attachment #24.