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GAO: DOT violated lobbying laws pushing ATC giveawayGAO: DOT violated lobbying laws pushing ATC giveaway

A federal watchdog said a Twitter account operated by the Department of Transportation broke the law when it retweeted and liked a post from an airline front group.

The U. S. Department of Transportation is one of the many government agencies that have influence over general aviation. Photo by David Tulis.

In a decision issued Dec. 13, the Government Accountability Office said the move violated the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act as well as the Antideficiency Act.

The tweet in question started its law-breaking journey July 12 with a post by Steve Forbes speaking out in support of legislation that would spin off ATC from the FAA and included a link to Citizens For On Time Flights, a wholly owned subsidiary of the airlines. It was then retweeted and liked by @SmarterSkies, an account operated by DOT.

At the request of the department’s inspector general, the retweet was deleted. A month later, also at the request of the inspector general, the account unliked the Tweet.

This isn’t the first time DOT has been called out for improperly supporting so-called ATC privatization.

Questions have been raised about the hiring of a former airline lobbyist, and congressional Democrats wrote the DOT inspector general about numerous instances of department officials contacting Congress in support of the bill.

Despite claims that the legislation would clear the House in the fall, the legislation failed to make it to the floor for a vote.

With an upcoming FAA funding deadline this March, the bill is likely to come up for consideration again.

Joe Kildea

Joe Kildea

AOPA Senior Director of Communications
Joe is a student pilot and his first solo flight was at AOPA’s home airport in Frederick, Maryland. Before joining AOPA in 2015, he worked for numerous political campaigns, news organizations, and the White House Press Office.
Topics: Advocacy, ATC

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