A pair of former congressmen now at Steptoe & Johnson LLP waded into Hurricane Sandy disaster relief appropriations legislation at the request of a division of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, according to lobbying registration paperwork filed with Congress on Friday.
By at least December 20, MTA's Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority had retained Republican former representatives Thomas Bliley Jr. of Virginia and John Shadegg of Arizona to lobby for it. President Barack Obama signed into law a $50.5 billion Sandy aid measure on January 29, three months after the storm battered the Northeast.
Bliley, a senior government affairs adviser at Steptoe, and Shadegg, a partner, are on the MTA account with partners James Barnette and R. Timothy Columbus as well as government affairs and public policy managing director Elizabeth Burks.
Sandy caused $5 billion in damage to MTA's system, including the Queens Midtown and Hugh L. Carey Brooklyn Battery tunnels.
Joseph Lhota, MTA's chairman and chief executive officer, said in testimony prepared for a December 6 U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing that at the height of the storm he and Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) saw more than 86 million gallons of seawater flood the Battery Tunnel. "What we saw there was truly unbelievable," Lhota said.
Steptoe is the only firm registered to lobby for MTA, according to congressional records. But in 2012, MTA spent $110,000 on the lobbying services of government relations firms Porterfield, Lowenthal & Fettig and Chambers, Conlon & Hartwell. The firms stopped advocating for MTA in the spring of 2012.