Rockefeller Places Hold on Surface Transportation Board Nominee

Posted August 5, 2009 at 3:25pm

Updated: 7:02 p.m.Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and ranking member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) put a hold Wednesday on Dan Elliott, President Barack Obama’s nominee for the Surface Transportation Board, after the United Transportation Union bragged that its political action committee contributions were in part responsible for the pick.Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) read a UTU statement during a Commerce Committee hearing today in which the union noted that Obama’s decision to appoint Elliott and another UTU employee, Joseph Szabo, to head the Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration, is a “tribute to the political influence of United Transportation Union, which flows from the UTU PAC.—Isakson also quoted UTU International President Michael Futhey as saying in the statement: “We have good reason to expect the president to reach to other UTU ranks for other appointments in the future.—None of the Senators suggested that Elliott, who most recently served as associate general counsel at the UTU, was involved in the release. Soon after Rockefeller placed his hold on Elliott, Futhey sent a letter to Rockefeller and Hutchison “profusely— apologizing for the statement, which Futhey said had been posted on the UTU Web site on July 7.“As the well-regarded associate general counsel for the UTU, Dan has served the interests of working families for 16 years. It is my belief that his selection for this important post was based on these years of dedicated service,— Futhey wrote. “It is my sincere hope that my badly chosen words will not derail his confirmation.—Rockefeller called the UTU statement “one of the most embarrassing, ridiculous, self-aggrandizing, harmful, and a few other words, press releases— in his memory. While the Commerce Committee reported Elliott out of committee, Rockefeller said the hold would be in place until an apology is issued by the UTU. “If somebody thought they were being cute, they better go back to K-12,— Rockefeller said.The UTU contributed $10,000 to Rockefeller in the 2008 election cycle.The union raised $695,423 during the first six months of 2009, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. It raised about $3 million during the 2008 election cycle.