As another U.S. election season heats up in 2016, it's important to mark the ways in which travel industry money will affect both election outcomes and future regulation.
A look at political campaign contributions made by major U.S. airline CEOs shows that top executives personally contributed to congresspeople likely to affect airfare regulation in 2016.
Data from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) paints a picture of top executives sending money to the politicians who actively shape air policy in America.
The bulk of the money sent from U.S. airline CEOs to American politicians was sent to those holding positions in the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the U.S. House Transportation Committee.
Rep. Bill Shuster, the Republican from Pennsylvania who is chairman of the House Transportation Committee, received $8,700 in contributions, the most any politician received from airline CEOs. Ranking member Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon, received $6,000.
Overall, airline CEOs directly sent more than $90,000 to politicians last year; Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson alone sent $24,600 to a variety of politicians.
Individuals are limited to contributing $2,700 per election cycle to a political candidate’s committee, while contributions to national party committees are limited to $33,400 per cycle.
The top single contribution to a political campaign in 2015 was actually Allegiant Air CEO Maurice Gallagher, who sent $30,000 to Uninitiated PAC, a campaign group affiliated with the ill-fated presidential candidate Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin. New United CEO Oscar Munoz also sent a small contribution to Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign.
Political Action Campaign (PAC) contributions, which can’t be directly traced to individual political campaigns, have been left off the list below. But PACs affiliated with the airlines have sent more than $700,000 so far to political campaigns in the 2016 election cycle.
|Jeff Smisek, former United Airlines CEO||Oscar Munoz, current United Airlines CEO||Richard Anderson, Delta Air Lines CEO||C. David Cush, Virgin America CEO||Gary Kelly, CEO Southwest Airlines||Bradley Tilden, CEO Alaska Airlines||Maurice Gallagher, Allegiant Air||TOTAL|
|Bill Shuster (R-Pa.)||2000||2700||2000||2000||8700|
|Patty Murray (D-Wash.)||2000||2600||4000||8600|
|John Thune (R-S.D.)||2000||2000||2000||6000|
|Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.)||2000||2000||2000||6000|
|Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.)||2000||2000||2000||6000|
|Joe Heck (R-Nev.)||5400||5400|
|Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.)||5400||5400|
|Cresent Hardy (R-Nev.)||5200||5200|
|Harold Rodgers (R-Ky.)||2000||2000||4000|
|Steve Scalise (R-La.)||2000||2000||4000|
|Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.)||2600||1000||3600|
|Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)||2700||2700|
|David Scott (D-Ga.)||2700||2700|
|Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah)||2700||2700|
|Michael Roberson (R-Nev.)||2700||2700|
|Steve Israel (D-N.Y.)||2700||2700|
|Erik Paulson (R-Minn.)||2600||2600|
|Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.)||2500||2500|
|William Huizenga (R-Mich.)||2500||2500|
|Peter Olson (R-Texas)||1500||1500|
|Dean Heller (R-Nev.)||1000||1000|
|Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.)||1000||1000|
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Photo credit: Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), right, and Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) look on as former House Speaker John Boehner signs The Highway and Transportation Funding Act in 2014. John Boehner / Flickr