Congress, Lobbying

Shelby ratchets up the rhetoric

The debate over the Augustine committee’s work went to a new level this afternoon when a senator alleged that the committee was “tainted” by lobbyists for the commercial space industry. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) issued a statement Monday accompanied by a letter to NASA inspector general Paul Martin. The key paragraph of Shelby’s letter:

I am writing with serious concerns regarding the Augustine Commission [sic] staff, their vocation, and their conduct while serving as Commission staff. It has come to my attention that several members are, in fact, federally registered lobbyists and that some of these individuals have taken direct advantage of their temporary roles on the Commission to further their personal business. Further, there are lobbyists that worked as Commission staff that are not even acknowledged in the report. This is both disturbing and unconscionable.

Shelby goes on to ask Martin to conduct “a thorough investigation” of those claims. However, nowhere in the statement does he name the staff members of the committee (not commission, senator) that he claims are registered lobbyists “who represent the commercial space industry in their full time profession”. It does not appear that he’s referring to any of the ten committee members, who don’t show up in lobbying databases like The final report includes a three-page appendix of committee staff, but most of these people are NASA employees or technical contractors; no one there immediately stands out. The Orlando Sentinel tried to get more information from Shelby’s office but has yet to get a response.

If Shelby is serious about these accusations, it would seem that a good next step would be to identify exactly who these individuals are, so, if nothing else, the accused know who they are and have an opportunity to respond. Otherwise, this begins to look more like a bit of FUD thrown into the ongoing debate about the future of NASA’s human spaceflight program.

9 comments to Shelby ratchets up the rhetoric

  • Major Tom

    Now, on top of Ares I, the Northern Alabama Space Agency is wasting taxpayer money on useless IG investigations.


  • Major Tom

    A discussion with someone who actually cares more about the future of the U.S. civil human space flight program than employment in Northern Alabama:


  • SpaceMan

    Shelby is an a**hat that spends all of his time on his knees. End of discussion.

  • While Shelby, as I said on my blog, has about as much moral authority to lecture people on the evils of lobbyists corrupting the political process as Tiger Woods has moral authority on the topic of marital fidelity…

    …I’m with Jeff in wondering who the heck he’s referring to with his childish tantrum.


  • sc220

    MSFC and Shelby reminds me of those rare occasions where clueless parents intercede on their bratty children’s behalf. This happens time and time again, and ultimately backfires when the parents turn their backs (much to the detriment of the children). Needless to say there is not much love for MSFC within the Agency, and Shelby ain’t getting any younger. At least Barb Mikulski realizes that she needs to “justify” the presents she bestows on her spoiled children.

  • Major Tom

    As NASAWatch pointed out this morning, the other Alabama senator, Jeff Sessions (also a Republican), opposed the omnibus spending bill:

    It’s interesting to note that the support for Ares/Constellation doesn’t even go as deep as both Alabama senators in the spending bill.


  • Loki

    The only person I can think of that he may be referring to is maybe Greason, but he’s not a lobbyist, he’s the CEO of “new space” company XCOR Aerospace. I think Shelby is just blowing smoke up people’s arses.

    Also, if he makes a big enough stink about unpecified lobbyists tainting the Augustine Committee, he’ll be able to grandstand come election time about how he “fought the lobbyists influence” to try and save jobs at MSFC. Meanwhile, the lobbyists from ATK, Boeing, LM, etc. continue to conduct business as usual.

    In fact, has anyone investigated Mr. Shelby’s campaign donor list? I imagine you’ll be able to find plently of money from the big aerospace companies lobbyists. That’s probably what he’s really pissed off about, that “his” lobbyists weren’t invited. What a hypocritical @$$#0!& this guy is. The more I hear about him the more I hope he gets sents packing come re-election time.

  • Major Tom

    The stupidly sad thing about Shelby’s actions is that if any of the options in the Augustine Committee report besides the program of record are pursued, they will likely result in greater employment in Alabama, not less. All the Moon First and Flexible Path options trade Ares I development for HLV development, commercial crew transport, and ISS extension. HLV development will likely use up all (and maybe more) of the Ares I workforce, which will probably be a net wash for the MSFC workforce. ULA will likely win or be part of a winning a commercial crew transport contract, which will boost production rates and the workforce at their Decatur plant. And instead of terminating MSFC’s ISS workforce in 2015, the Moon First and Flexible Path options ensure that ISS workers at MSFC will continue to be employed through 2020.

    I personally hope that the HLV decision is deferred, which would impact the MSFC workforce if Ares I is also terminated. But based on the options in the Augustine Committee’s final report, Shelby should be cheering Moon First and Flexible Path, rather than making false claims about the Committee’s treatment of flight safety and accusing NASA employee and support contractor staff of being lobbyists.


  • common sense

    “HLV development will likely use up all (and maybe more) of the Ares I workforce”

    This is why Ares V or a variant will go on for a while. And as I stated before if commercial finds a way to run the mission at a lesser cost than Ares V then it’ll be cancelled, just not now.

    ” ULA will likely win or be part of a winning a commercial crew transport contract”

    If Orion goes on that may be. If Lockheed or Boeing have to develop their own crew tarnsport (as I assume it would not be ULA) and if it is a capsule they will be in a legal nightmare as they will not be able to use whatever they did for OSP and CEV on government money. So to me it is not clear they can get the crew transport, maybe the launcher. And here I am speaking of ISS service. For deep space I am not sure if it’d play a role unless the governement here again opens a COTS like competition rather than the current format. But note that if they change Constellation I would not be surprised they have to re-procure the whole thing… We’ll see.

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>