D.C. group details Moroun’s ‘pay-to-play scandal’

June 6, 2012
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Anyone interested in a concise summary of the lengths Manuel “Matty” Moroun and the Detroit International Bridge Co. have gone to in order to prevent a publicly owned bridge from being constructed downriver should read Troubled Crossing, a report just issued by the good-government group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

The report hits all the low notes in the relentless campaign by a billionaire and his company to fend off competition to their near-monopoly.

Intense lobbying, direct campaign contribution to politicians who then do the company’s bidding, and a multi-million dollar ad campaign (roundly criticized in the past for the false claims made) are all touched upon in this report by the D.C.-based nonprofit group.

The report pulls no punches, starting off by saying:

 A proposal to build a new bridge between Detroit and Canada has stalled in the face of an expensive influence campaign. The saga of the proposed bridge, known as the New International Trade Crossing (NITC), shows how a single, determined billionaire can wield disproportionate influence over the public agenda. Despite support for the bridge proposal from the governor of Michigan, Canadian officials, businesses and the public, billionaire Manuel ‘Matty’ Moroun has successfully kept the plan from moving forward.

As we reported previously — and others have noted more recently — Gov. Rick Snyder is exploring ways to get the new bridge built without having to go through the state Legislature, where Moroun’s influence peddling has been highly effective.

In a press release from CREW, CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said:

If Mr. Moroun didn’t have such deep pockets, the new bridge would be a done deal. This is exactly the sort of pay-to-play scheme designed to assist special interests at the expense of the public interest.