Watchdog Responds to Delta: What about perks to state lawmakers?

Public Campaign Action Fund is now Every Voice. Check out our new website:

Washington, D.C.—Campaign finance watchdog Public Campaign Action Fund is requesting Delta Airlines disclose the perks they provide state officials in places where they do business, concerned about the undue influence the company could be building with elected officials.

According to the letter:

We know from an Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Delta gives upgrades to Casey Cagle, state lawmakers, 05/17/11) article that Delta provided elite flying status to Georgia state lawmakers. Does Delta provide this same corporate benefit or gift to lawmakers in any of the other 49 states?

So, while you may not provide these gifts due to federal laws, do you exploit loopholes or lax ethics provisions in states without such strong safeguards against corruption or undue influence?  We sympathize that there is a complicated patchwork of state laws and ethics procedures to follow. Protecting lawmakers from the influence of special interests certainly is a compelling state interest, so each state approaches it differently.

On Wednesday, Public Campaign Action Fund sent letters to 20 members of the U.S. House and Senate requesting disclosure of whether these members, all who had received campaign contributions from the company, had received other perks as described in previous reporting.

In response, a Delta spokesman said, "Delta follows guidelines established by Congress regarding travel and complies with Congressional ethics rules. Federal officials must earn any elite status with the airline,” opening the door to the possibility of buying such influence in states with lax gift and ethics rules.

“As Delta pushes anti-union provisions at the federal level, it’s important for everyone to know the full extent of their influence peddling—be it in Congress or state houses,” said David Donnelly, national campaigns director at Public Campaign Action Fund.