Portland, Uber lobbyist ties emerge

Representatives for the ridesharing company spend more time, money in City Hall than anyone else, report reveals.

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Uber lobbyists have made themselves at home in the Portland City Hall.

Representatives for the ridesharing company spend more time and money in City Hall than anyone else, a report from the City Auditor reveals.

In the first quarter of 2015, Uber reported spending $12,616 to lobby City Hall, about one-third of the total spent by all lobbies. Broadway Cab and the Transportation Fairness Alliance, a coalition of taxi companies, had the second-highest expenditures, at $7,500.

But during the second quarter of the year, when the city launched a four-month pilot project to allow Uber and Lyft to operate here, the lobbying gap mushroomed. Uber reported spending $50,173, or 69 percent of the total lobbying expenditures by all entities at City Hall, while Broadway Cab and the taxi coalition spent $7,500.

(SOURCE: Portland Tribune)

Some noteworthy figures from that Portland Tribune report:

  • Lobbying from Uber has outpaced what Pembina Pipeline proponents spent by seven times.
  • Representatives for Uber had 19 personal meetings and 24 phone calls with City Hall officials.
  • The Transportation Fairness Alliance secured 11 personal meetings during the first quarter.

Finally, a political consultant to Mayor Charlie Hales, and Commissioners Dan Saltzman and Steve Novick — who heads the transportation bureau — is also a lobbyist for Uber.

The arrangement suggests Wiener—who aided a deal between Hales and Uber in his dining room in December—has represented both buyer and seller as Uber has worked with the city to craft rules allowing ride-hailing companies to operate long-term in Portland. 

Len Bergstein, a long-time City Hall lobbyist who now represents EcoCab, says the setup is unusual. “I think it’s profoundly disturbing,” he says, “that the public business was done in secret by someone who was getting paid by two adverse parties.” 

(SOURCE: Willamette Week)

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