In the current recession, transportation projects are widely hailed as a way to build infrastructure, boost employment and reduce carbon emissions.
Chicago, a major rail and air hub, is especially hungry for transportation dollars.
So when Rep. Dan Lipinski supports such projects, he’s helping companies and voters throughout his district, which includes part of Chicago and southwestern suburbs.
One of the biggest beneficiaries is his father, Bill Lipinski.
The elder Lipinski is a former member of Congress who now works as a lobbyist for transportation companies.
The industry, long reliant on federal subsidy, will get a boost through several recent federal initiatives designed to reignite the economy.
A $100 million federal grant, announced last week, will fund rail projects designed to untangle freight traffic and reduce transit delays in the Chicago area.
The funds are being provided through the Recovery Act, signed by President Obama last year.
As Dan Lipinski, who sits on the House Transportation Committee declared last week: “It will help create jobs, shorten commutes, reduce shipping times, lower fuel usage and pollution, make high-speed rail a reality and cement our region’s position as America’s transportation hub.”
It will also benefit Bill Lipinski’s clients, including the Chicago Transit Authority, the Association of American Railroads, the Transportation for Illinois Coalition and Burlington Northern Santa Fe.
Senate lobbying reports show that in the last quarter of 2009, Bill Lipinski collected $150,000 from railroad and Illinois transportation interests.
Improving the area’s transportation network has been one of Dan Lipinski’s prime issues since his election in 2004.
Discussing the potential for conflicts of interest with his father, he told Chicago Sun-Times in 2008: “He has agreed he does not lobby me for anyone he works for.”