Skift Take

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
Jeb Bush 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
TOTAL 12000 5400 24600 5400 13500 15000 14300 90200

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Tags: execs, funding, government, politics

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

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