1/26/2008

Toll Road Agencies Hire Lobbyists, Violate Law

by Editor of TheNewspaper.com

The tolls motorists pay in Pennsylvania and Texas
often go to buy influence in Washington, DC.

Texas lobbying effort may violate state law.

Ted HoughtonToll road authorities across the country are taking the money collected from motorists and handing it to lobbyists hired to convince federal and state officials to expand tolling and protect the agencies' parochial interests. The toll road hired guns urged federal officials to add toll booths to existing freeways, including Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania and Interstates 10, 27 and 35 in Texas. Texas tolling officials may even have violated the law in their effort.

"Lobbying firms that specialize in working for local municipalities routinely boast on their websites how much return they can bring in, as one way to justify their costs," Center for Responsive Politics analyst Julia Pflaum wrote in an October study of public lobbying.

Pflaum listed the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission as the fourth biggest spender of public money on lobbyists, based on data provided in public disclosure forms. According to the figures, the Turnpike spent $280,000 in toll money last year to buy the influence needed to bring coveted federal earmarks to boost the Turnpike's budget and to convince state legislators to authorize a significant toll hike. Payments of between $200,000 and $20,000 went to lobby shops including the American Continental Group; Borski Associates; Baker, Donelson et al; and Hill Solutions. Similar spending reported over the past decade amounted to $2,030,000 in direct lobbying expenses. This represents more than a quarter of the total amount spent by the entire Pennsylvania state government on lobbying, but it does not represent the full amount of toll dollars diverted from improving the roads to influence peddling.

Read the rest of the article, which talks about TxDOT, Ted Houghton and Sal Costello HERE.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I knew this was the case. That's why I refuse to drive on a Texas toll road no matter what. No TX tag for me, ever! The only way you'll get one on my car is with my cold dead hands.

Anonymous said...

Another instance of developers infringing on our rights, this time more than toll related.
http://www.austinaction.org/actions/petition_view?page=2&name=belterra

I don't want to get cancer because greedy developers want to turn Austin swimming holes into open sewers. The nerve of these developers!

pstern said...

Again, people have the misconception that if they don't drive on toll roads they are not paying for toll roads. WRONG!!! Any time a professional, truck or company pays tolls they will pass along the cost of tolls onto the consumer. At best it is extremely naive to think that you are not paying toll taxes just because you don't actually drive on toll roads. The only way NOT to pay toll taxes is to GET RID OF TOLL ROADS COMPLETELY!

Peter Stern
www.pstern.statesmanblogs.com

Anonymous said...

I do everything in my power to stay off toll roads and will continue to do so. Even though I may be paying for these roads indirectly, being spied upon by their cameras and dropping money into their "dirty" toll booths just doesn't make it for me.