Rep. Bill Shuster, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, revealed to Politico today that he is dating an influential lobbyist who works for one of the biggest American airline trade associations, Airlines for America.
The lobbyist, Shelley Rubino, is vice president for global governmental affairs for the organization. Its members are highly interested in the ongoing negotiations to overhaul the Federal Aviation Administration. Congressman Shuster is in the middle of the negotiations.
In a statement, Rep. Shuster said, “Ms. Rubino and I have a private and personal relationship, and out of respect for her and my family, that is all I will say about that.”
Shuster also addressed concerns about the potential conflict of interests, saying, “Ms. Rubino doesn’t lobby my office, including myself and my staff” thanks to a policy that his office has in place to deal with personal relationships.
A spokesperson for Airlines for America said, “As a matter of practice, and out of respect for our employees’ privacy, we do not comment on their personal lives.” The group has made it clear that Rubino does not personally lobby Rep. Shuster.
Speaker of the House John Boehner has not commented, and Ms. Rubino also did not respond.
Legal experts say that the relationship does not appear to violate ethics laws.