Maryland’s DOT nominee is pushing Koch products

March 4, 2015

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan owes the Kochs big time for supporting his campaign. Now he is paying them back by installing their pawns in his administration. Pete Rahn is the latest Koch crony that has been dispatched to work in a newly minted GOP administration. Governor Hogan nominated Rahn to lead the state’s Department of Transportation.

Rahn suffered a bruising confirmation hearing that had to be postponed because legislators had too many questions about his many connections to the billionaire Koch brothers. At the hearing, Maryland legislators raised questions about a highway project in New Mexico, where Rahn was previously DOT chief. The widening of NM-44, a 118-mile, $420 million project that Rahn oversaw in New Mexico, was the most expensive highway project in the state’s history and included a huge and unusual contract to Koch Industries: a 20-year, $62 million contract for roadway maintenance.

However, in 2004, it became clear that Koch Industries wasn’t living up to its end of the deal: the road began to show “unexpected and troubling signs of distress,” and the project ended up receiving serious scrutiny by the state.

During the hearing, Maryland Senate President Mike Miller shined a spotlight on Rahn’s crooked Koch dealings, stating, “What he did was the governor told him to build a road, but [Rahn] said there’s no money to build it. So he went to the Koch brothers and said, ‘You design a road. And you can be the sole bidder. And then you’ll be responsible for the repairs.”

An investigation by the Albuquerque Business Journal, confirmed that Koch Industries was the only bidder on the project and approached Rahn directly with the proposal before bids had even been requested.

We’ve seen this movie before. Rahn used his post as DOT chief in New Mexico to award a lucrative contract to Koch Industries, and there’s no reason to expect he would do any different as Governor Hogan’s hand-picked nominee. Maryland taxpayers deserve a DOT chief who isn’t a Koch crony.

Paid for by American Bridge 21st Century Foundation