Former Hogan Aide Becomes Transurban Lobbyist

Traffic on the American Legion Bridge connecting Maryland and Virginia. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Amanda N. Allen, a former Hogan administration official who left state government in January to join Transurban, is now a registered lobbyist for the firm in Maryland.

She registered as a lobbyist within days of joining the global transportation firm, according to state records.

A former Hogan campaign worker, Allen served as special assistant to the governor until June, when she was promoted to director of intergovernmental affairs. She held that post until her departure in January.

Allen is now Government and Community Affairs manager at Transurban North America, based in Tysons, Va.

Transurban’s sprawling network of express toll lanes includes several highways — spread over a 50-plus mile radius — in Northern Virginia.

The firm has expressed public interest in bidding on the Maryland Department of Transportation’s plan to widen portions of the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270 in Montgomery County.

The plan is the top transportation priority of Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R), who toured a Transurban project in Australia in 2019. Transurban North America CEO Jennifer Aument was part of the official delegation that accompanied Hogan on that trip.

Maryland and Virginia have agreed in principal to rebuild the American Legion Bridge, which crosses the Potomac River. Virginia Gov. Ralph S. Northam (D) announced last year that the state will expand its existing contract with Transurban to handle its share of the project.

Allen’s move from the Hogan administration to Transurban bolstered the view that the company is well-positioned as the state begins the process of selecting a concessionaire.

It also drew concern from good government advocates.

“This type of employment migration is the kind that voters detest and the kind that motivates all ‘revolving door’ legislation,” said Del. Vaughn Stewart (D-Montgomery) on Wednesday. “Public service should not be a pathway to a corporate lobbyist payday.”

Montgomery County businessman Emmet Tydings, a backer of Hogan’s road-widening plan, dismissed the notion that Transurban is “in the pole position” to secure the winning bid.

Transportation Secretary Greg Slater “is not one of the old-boy group,” Tydings said. “The governor is so smart and careful. I don’t think there is any shoo-in.”

Stewart sponsored legislation this year to require a 12-month “cooling off” period before former cabinet secretaries can lobby state officials. The measure, House Bill 315, was approved unanimously.

In addition to the one-year waiting period, the bill also incorporates increased fines for elected officials convicted of bribery, a priority of Hogan’s.

“By folding an element of his bill into my bill, you really underscore the point that we’re all trying to lock arms around the idea of Maryland being the envy of the nation on ethics reform,” Stewart said.

A one-year ban on lobbying already exists for state lawmakers when they leave the legislature — unless the ex-lawmaker is going to work for a government agency.

But HB 315 would not apply to Allen because she is already a lobbyist and because she was not a cabinet secretary.

The measure is among hundreds of bills approved by the legislature whose fate is unknown because Hogan has been focused on the COVID-19 crisis. The legislature officially transmitted bills to him on Tuesday, meaning he has until May 7 to sign them, veto them, or allow them to become law without his signature.

The state issued a Request for Qualifications on its highway-widening project in February. Firms deemed qualified to handle the massive project — estimated at $9 billion to $11 billion — will then be eligible to submit a bid. Responses are due in late April.

Allen did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday, nor did Michael Ricci, a spokesman for Hogan.

Transurban spokeswoman Tanya Sheres said Allen “is doing government relations and community affairs on behalf of our projects.”

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Gov. Hogan visited Transurban headquarters in 2019. He toured one of the company’s projects.

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