Fmr Obama aide fined $90k over unethical lobbying for Uber
Uber executive David Plouffe was fined by the Chicago Board of Ethics after a 5-0 vote Thursday. They ruled that he had acted as an unregistered lobbyist in 2015 when he contacted Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) in regards to regulations for commercial drivers accepting passengers at city airports.
Plouffe managed Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign before joining Uber. He is also working with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, NBC reported.
In addition to Plouffe’s $90,000 fine, Uber will be fined $2,000. While neither Uber nor Plouffe disputes the allegations, they believe that Plouffe should only be required to pay the $1,000 minimum. However, the Board defended its decision by arguing that “each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate and distinct offense to which a separate fine shall apply,” the Chicago Tribune reported.
The illegal lobbying became public when Emanuel released hundreds of personal emails concerning public affairs due to mounting lawsuits accusing Emanuel of violating the state's open records law.
In emails to Emanuel, Plouffe attempted to convince him to consider loosening regulations on rideshare pickups at airports, such as a proposal to require placards and specific pickup fees. In November 2015, Plouffe wrote, "Coming to you because of their severity that would prevent us from operating. We were all set to announce Monday we were beginning pickups."
Airports were a hot issue for the ridesharing industry, as they were the last remaining space that belonged exclusively to private taxis in Chicago.
Emanuel redirected Plouffe to his senior adviser and chief of staff.
Uber spokesperson Molly Spaeth told the Chicago Sun-Times that the company’s officials “work hard to ensure our registrations are accurate and up to date. We regret that in this instance we made a mistake and we will comply with the board’s assessment.”