Thursday, March 22, 2012

Senator Feinstein and high-speed rail

Cronyism at any speed
by Andrew Stiles

California’s high-speed rail initiative has its fair share of detractors, but the state’s two largest utility companies—Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) and Southern California Edison—are not among them.

Both companies stand to make millions, if not billions, providing electricity to the new high-speed rail lines if the controversial project is approved....

No politician has received more money from the two companies than Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.). PG&E and Southern California Edison are Feinstein’s first- and second-biggest donors, respectively, over the course of her three terms in office. PG&E has given Feinstein more than $154,000 since 1992. Edison has given her $125,000 during that same period.

Feinstein is a long-time supporter of high-speed rail and has written to Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood seeking billions of dollars in additional federal funding for the California project.

Earlier this year, Feinstein wrote a letter to Brown urging him to address concerns over the state’s high-speed rail project or risk losing billions of dollars in federal funding.

“I encourage you to act swiftly to address the high speed rail project’s problems, which I fear will put more than $3.5 billion in Federal funding at risk if not addressed,” Feinstein wrote on Jan. 9, 2012. “I am concerned that our state’s future would be greatly hindered if this project either failed to get off the ground, or failed to be completed.”

In September 2011, after the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Transportation drafted a bill that cut all funding for high-speed rail, Feinstein offered a last-minute amendment to restore that funding to $100 million.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority spent $160,000 last year lobbying for such funding. Most of that went to Kadesh & Associates, a lobbying firm founded by Mark Kadesh, Feinstein’s former chief of staff.

Kadesh also represents Edison International, and has collected $180,000 a year from the utility company—more than half a million dollars in total—since 2008...

Rest of the story at the Washington Free Beacon

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