“Katie McGinty’s questionable ethics are in the spotlight once again. After making a career out of taking trips through the revolving door between the public and private sectors, Katie McGinty is now refusing to come clean about her past as a lobbyist and $120,000 campaign contribution from a company who received preferential treatment from her Department of Environmental Protection. Pennsylvanians deserve a U.S. Senator who’s more focused on improving the lives of working class families than furthering her own career.” – PA GOP Communications Director Megan Sweeney
The revolving-door path Katie McGinty took to the Pennsylvania Senate race
April 19, 2016
Former lobbyist Katie McGinty has spent three decades in politics getting rich off the companies she regulated and subsidized. Now this master of the revolving-door wants Pennsylvania voters to give her another perch in government: U.S. Senator.
In the final days before her tough primary battle with former Rep. Joe Sestak, it’s worth delving into McGinty’s time on K Street and in corporate boardrooms, especially as she is furiously denying the corporate-lobbyist label.
McGinty — and her lobbyist former boss at the lobbying firm where she was registered as a lobbyist — have recently denied McGinty was really a lobbyist. McGinty was only registered for a few days, Team McGinty explains. Also, she registered only “out of abundance of caution,” in the words of lobbyist Tom Jensen, who had been her underling in the Clinton Administration and her boss at K Street lobbying firm Troutman Sanders.
Jensen is correct that McGinty was only registered to lobby for three days. But whether she was really a lobbyist or just a corporate government affairs agent is less interesting than what she and her client were working on.
In the late 1990s, the Clinton administration pushed to outlaw the standard inhaler that asthmatics used, because it relied upon chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, which deplete the ozone layer. The chief environmental official in the White House at the time was Katie McGinty.
McGinty left the White House in 1998, and soon joined the K Street law/lobbying firm Troutman Sanders. Her sole lobbying client, for those three days, was drugmaker Glaxo Wellcome, a predecessor to Glaxo-Smithkline. The disclosure forms indicate she was Glaxo’s sole lobbyist at Troutman Sanders, lobbying the EPA on its rule on “chloroflourocarbon allotments.”
Glaxo in those days was petitioning the EPA to increase its allotment of permissible CFC emissions to Glaxo, which was the leading marketer of CFC-powered inhalers. Again, inhalers were a leading source of CFCs at that point. Glaxo repeatedly petitioned the EPA for a larger CFC allowance, pointing out in regulatory filings that the company was further behind on developing CFC-free inhalers than it had hoped — competitors were already marketing such ozone-friendly inhalers at the time.
In brief, while McGinty was Bill Clinton’s top environmental advisor, the Clinton administration cracked down on CFCs. She then left and went to work for a leading CFC emitter, pleading for ways out from under those limits.
McGinty in the following decade served at Gov. Ed Rendell’s Secretary of the Environment. (Rendell later became a corporate lobbyist, and he is now chairman of McGinty’s campaign.) Rendell and McGinty spent years handing tens of millions of dollars in subsidies to Spanish wind company Iberdrola and its subsidiaries.
As soon as she left the Rendell administration, McGinty took a spot on Iberdrola’s board. Iberdrola paid McGinty $100,000 a year in quarterly payments. The company cut her last $25,000 check on January 14, 2015, less than a week before she became Gov. Tom Wolf’s chief of staff, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
In 2014, Iberdrola subsidiary Gamesa had closed its Rendell-subsidized plant in Cambria County.
To sum up that story, Iberdrola came to Pennsylvania, and got corporate subsidies from McGinty. McGinty then got hundreds of thousands of dollars from Iberdrola while the company laid off Pennsylvanians.
McGinty’s Department of the Environment in 2007 held up Thar Energy as an example of the alternative energy the state should be funding. Secretary McGinty on at least one occasion met with a Thar executive about state grants. Thar later received state grants and contracts, after McGinty had left state government. In 2012, Thar Energy put McGinty on its board.
Perhaps you see a pattern here. McGinty’s time in the Clinton administration bore fruit for her on K Street, where she helped companies try to wriggle out from under Clinton Administration environmental policy. McGinty’s time in the Rendell administration bore fruit for her in corporate board rooms where she helped companies pocket the subsidies she had advocated.
Now she wants Pennsylvania Democrats to put another line on her resume. How is Katie McGinty planning to cash out of this stint in public service, and how do Democratic primary voters feel about being another stepping stone to corporate riches?