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Wed, Jan 04, 2023

Allegations of Corruption Haunt Phillip A. Washington

Biden’s Pick for FAA Boss Faces Uphill Road to Confirmation

Phillip A. Washington, Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Federal Aviation Administration, is facing an uncertain and uphill path to confirmation amid concerns about his dearth of aviation experience and documented entanglement in an ongoing corruption investigation.

Despite being nominated by Biden in July 2022, Washington—the chief executive of Denver International Airport (DEN)—has yet to receive a U.S. Senate confirmation hearing. As the sitting Congress ends in early January 2023, Biden must renominate Washington for the FAA post—a course of action White House spokeswoman Olivia Dalton states Joe may not embrace.

Uncertainty about Washington’s nomination has been exacerbated by the numerous and serious challenges with which the FAA is presently faced.

Retrospectively the agency is contending with multitudinous complaints set forth by air travelers in the wake of unprecedented flight delays and cancellations attributable to airlines’ collective mismanagement of the COVID crisis. What’s more, the matter of the FAA’s oversight of Boeing’s 737 MAX program and the rubber-stamping of the aircraft’s type certification have badly damaged the agency’s reputation and regulatory credibility.

Future challenges with which the FAA is obligated to concern itself include shoring up staffing of America’s air traffic control system, and codifying legislative infrastructure by which to regulate the emergent Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) sector.

The FAA has been without long-term leadership since March 2022, when Stephen Dickson, a former Delta Air Lines pilot and executive appointed by President Donald J. Trump, resigned prior to the end of his five-year term as the agency’s administrator. The FAA’s top safety official, Billy Nolen, a former American Airlines pilot, has served as interim administrator since Mr. Dickson’s abdication.

In sharp contrast to Messrs. Dickson and Nolen, Washington, 64, has no practical aviation experience of which to speak. He is neither a pilot, an aerospace engineer, nor an airframe and powerplant mechanic. Washington did, however, head Biden’s transition team for transportation after the 2020 election.

What Phillip A. Washington possesses in abundance, however, is a potential connection to public corruption, pay-to-play, fraud, and waste and abuse of public funds. Federal Investigators proved in Federal Court that under his leadership as the Denver Regional Transportation District’s (RTD) general manager, Washington’s underlings exchanged contracts for cash and lobbied RTD to renew Access-a-Ride contracts in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

On 19 February 2021, The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, after a two-year investigation, served criminal warrants to LA Metro, the LA Metro Office of Inspector General, and a non-profit known as Peace Over Violence. Subject warrants addressed allegations of fraud, waste and abuse, public corruption, and pay to play between Peace Over Violence CEO Patti Giggans, LA Metro CEO Phillip Washington, Washington’s Chief of Staff Nadine Lee, former New Orleans RTA CEO Alex Wiggins, and LA Metro Executive Officer Aston Greene III.

On 03 February 2021, sixteen-days prior to the serving of the aforementioned criminal warrants, Washington—without securing further employment—stepped down from his post as CEO of LA Metro.

On 30 May 2021, Washington left LA Metro just as he’d left Denver RTD—under criminal investigation.

That the FAA is in need of a competent tillerman is obvious. That Phillip A. Washington is the man for the job is the question at hand.

FMI: www.faa.gov

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