12/22/2007Pennsylvania: Public Money Spent on Toll Road Lobbyist
Pennsylvania Turnpike officials spend nearly one million in gas tax dollars to keep their own jobs.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has diverted $960,000 in public funds since 2004 to pay lobbying firms to persuade lawmakers to protect the agency from plans to lease its toll road. Turnpike officials fear they could lose jobs and influence if Governor Ed Rendell (D) were allowed to lease the toll roads to foreign companies in return for billions in cash. By hiring Bravo group, the agency hoped to get lawmakers on board their effort to maintain relevancy.
"It's pretty clear that they are interested in protecting their own little fiefdoms," Commonwealth Foundation President Matthew Brouillette told The Philadelphia Bulletin.
The government affairs firm known as the Bravo Group earned a $26,000 monthly payment for its government affairs and public relations services. Toll road officials claim the money was spent on "education" for decision makers.
The Turnpike receives $28 million in gas tax revenue annually from the state.