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Mon, Oct 27, 2003

FedEx Opposes Van Tine DOT Nomination

FedEx: No Sir, We Don't Like Him

The DOT is defending one of its own, selected by President Bush to take over the Number two slot in the department. FedEx is on the attack, lobbying hard to block the nomination of Kirk Van Tine in the Senate.

The reason? Van Tine was at the forefront of efforts by the White House, trying to get $32 million in post-9/11 aid back from the freight company. FedEx isn't playing around, either. The company has taken its case to the Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist (R-TN), who represents the company's home state.

Frist's office did not return calls for comment. Still, another source close to the matter said there was no indication from Congress the Senate confirmation process would be held up. In other words, FedEx may be barking up the wrong tree.

As the DOT general consul, Van Tine left the agency earlier this year. But when Michael Jackson quit his job as deputy to Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, Van Tine was back in the spotlight, nominated to replace him.

"It's an unfortunate miscalculation on FedEx's part to personalize a disagreement,'' said John Flaherty, DOT Secretary Norm Mineta's chief of staff. "Van Tine is a solid guy, a consummate professional who is hand-in-glove with the secretary. That's why we want him as his deputy."

FedEx says its opposition has nothing to do with the dispute over the post-9/11 aid. The carrier says Van Tine simply isn't up to the job because he lacked broader aviation experience.

The government gave FedEx $101 million shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks as part of the $5 billion cash program approved by Congress to compensate the industry for lost business when all flights were banned for three days after the attacks. But DOT later figured FedEx's losses were more than 30 percent less than the company had claimed -- $69 million -- and tried to get the government's money back. That case, along with more than a dozen others, is still pending.



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