Firms’ lobbying push comes amid rancor on TSA use of airport full-body scanners


Dan Eggen
Washington Post
December 25, 2010

The companies that build futuristic airport scanners take a more old-fashioned approach when it comes to pushing their business interests in Washington: hiring dozens of former lawmakers, congressional aides and federal employees as their lobbyists.

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About eight of every 10 registered lobbyists who work for scanner-technology companies previously held positions in the government or Congress, most commonly in the homeland security, aviation or intelligence fields, a Washington Post review of lobbying-disclosure forms and other data shows.

Industries routinely employ well-connected lobbyists to seek favorable legislation and regulations in the nation’s capital. But the extent of the connections to the federal government is particularly notable given the relatively small size of the scanner industry, which is dominated by half a dozen specialized businesses with heavy investments in airport and border security technology. On K Street as a whole, by contrast, only about one in three lobbyists has previously worked in government.

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Many of the scanner companies are also on pace to spend record amounts of money for lobbying this year on Capitol Hill, where they see potential problems as some lawmakers push for limits on airport-security practices. Top scanner businesses have reported spending more than $6 million on lobbying this year, records show. That doesn’t include industrial giants such as General Electric, which also dabbles in scanning technology and has spent more than $32 million on lobbying this year.

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