FAA chief moves to high-paying industry job

By Eric Rosenberg

December 16, 2007 at 10:34am

In her first address as one of the aerospace industry’s top spokespeople, Marion Blakey, a former senior Bush administration appointee, said U.S. aerospace companies had a banner year.

“With good news in nearly every sector, I am pleased to see the American aerospace industry’s strong international presences continuing to keep pace with our domestic successes,” said Blakey, the new chief of the Aerospace Industries Association, the country’s top lobbying organization for military and commercial aviation companies.

It was Blakey’s first year-end assessment of the aerospace industry as president of AIA, which represents powerhouses such as Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics.

At a luncheon in a hotel ballroom about a mile from the Pentagon, she said the industry had posted a record year in 2007, with total sales reaching $198 billion.

It was also a record year for Blakey personally, whose ascent is a testament to the revolving door between government and private industry and relationship-building in the nation’s capital. Blakey has parlayed a succession of government posts with aviation oversight into one of the most coveted jobs in the aerospace industry.

Blakey previously served as President Bush’s administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration for five years. She previously chaired the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates aviation and other mass-casualty accidents, and administrator at the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Prior to her employment in the Bush administration, she ran a transportation consulting business in Washington, D.C.

But it was Blakey’s leap in November to the aerospace trade group from the FAA, where she was responsible for regulating many of the companies that she now serves, that caused consternation among citizens groups.

Blakey’s appointment to the AIA “raises some pretty serious ethics questions,” Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, told USA Today this fall. Scott Amey, general counsel of the Project on Government Oversight, told the newspaper that Blakey’s appointment feeds the public’s “worst fear” of government executives trading on their position.

Likewise, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., a frequent critic of the White House, said in response to Blakey’s job switch that “the revolving door has spun out of control.”

Blakey countered that she had been “scrupulously careful” in following federal ethics rules when she was FAA chief. She told the newspaper that after she opened employment negotiations with the AIA, she steered clear of agency business that might affect the trade group or Boeing.

There’s little doubt that Blakey received a substantial pay raise to go to AIA. At the FAA, the Alabama native earned approximately $168,000 annually. The 2005 tax return for AIA, the most recent public filing available, shows that her predecessor was paid $532,000 annually, plus benefits and expenses.

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  • #1.   TrainRider 12.17.2007

    Why is there no mention of the billion dollar contract she handed out just days before taking her new job? Not to mention the other billions that many of those same companies recieved during her term as Administrator. As a FAA employee I am glad she is gone now it is up to the Justice Department and Congress to investigate her and many other Bush appointees.

  • #2.   mikey 12.17.2007

    Just another example of the privileged and powerful doing favors for each other. She brought the FAA to the brink of ruin and now she’s getting her payback from the industry, and nothing will happen because this type of corruption is what our government is all about now.

  • #3.   Dan 12.17.2007

    With the direction and help of her boss (George W. Bush), Blakey pulled back firmly on the yoke, stalled the FAA and bailed out with her golden parachute. It is disgraceful to see this type of clueless leadership followed up by illicit rewards for destroying the government regimented air traffic control system. We are all going to pay dearly for this action on the part of the George Bush White House.

  • #4.   Chick Doodle 12.18.2007

    It is stories like this that make me want to squeeze one out for the team and flush. Blakey was a waste, and will always be a waste. FTFMF

  • #5.   just another hamster 12.19.2007

    Clearly she broke some rules but the guberment will turn a blind eye like they always do, business as usual! No wonder our country is so screwed up!

  • #6.   RIF'd AFSS'r 12.20.2007

    Blakey should be investigated for awarding the AFSS contract to Lockheed, a company that had no experience in Flight Service, no computer system to implement(a requirement of the contract, they lied to the US Gov’t), no workforce in place to take over. The FAA also violated every Gov’t RIF rule to force the AFSS specialists to go with LM so the scheme would work. Lockheed has ruined Flight Service due to their inexperience and incompetence. Blakey & Co. have laid the groundwork to do the same to the rest of ATC.

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