Imagine yourself there. A subtle breeze blowing through the palms which shade the chaise lounge on which you are reclined. Above you is a white luxury hotel. You can hear salsa music in the distance. A waiter comes up to you.
“Another martini sir?”
“Yes, please.” You say.
A beautiful woman in a bikini walks by. The smell of coconut oil wafts over you.
You look over at your friend, a lobbyist for the airline industry. “This is so much better than Washington.”
Your friend smiles at you, nods, and takes another sip of his margarita. “You got that Bill.”
Now imagine you are the chairman of a powerful House committee which holds your friend’s industry in its hands. “We’ve got to do this more often.” You say.
Your airline lobbyist friend nods again and takes another drag on his straw. “You bet.”
On Feb. 10, Nick Calio, head of the nation’s top airline trade group, Airlines for America, testified before Rep. Bill Shuster’s House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The topic was a top priority for both men: A bill to overhaul the Federal Aviation Administration, most controversially by putting air traffic control in the hands of an entity favorable to the airlines.
Two days later, Shuster’s committee approved the measure. And the week after that, he and Calio escaped to Miami Beach, Florida, with Shelley Rubino, an Airlines for America vice president who is Shuster’s girlfriend…
…Several lobbyists on the fundraising trip were taken aback by the closeness displayed by Shuster, Calio and Rubino as they mingled at the Shelbourne Wyndham Grand hotel on posh Collins Avenue in South Beach. These sources requested anonymity, not wanting to antagonize a powerful committee chairman and the largest airline lobby.
Multiple attendees said the trio spent much of the trip together, hanging out poolside on deck chairs in front of a cabana that was rented for the weekend fundraiser. The three also took a private shuttle organized by Calio with others to a dinner Saturday night at Garcia’s Seafood Grille & Fish Market, a well-known Cuban restaurant in Miami, the sources said.