Bush nominates Macquarie official as counsel for DOT

| 1/26/2007

President Bush has announced that he intends to appoint an official with toll-road investor Macquarie to be the general counsel of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

David James Gribbin, IV, of Virginia is currently the division director for Macquarie Holdings, a Washington, DC, company under the umbrella of the toll-road investor Macquarie Infrastructure Group of Australia.

Before that private sector job, Gribbin was chief counsel of the Federal Highway Administration. Current Transportation Secretary Mary Peters also worked at FHWA at that time.

Bush's announcement may draw anti-privatization sentiment from U.S. senators during the confirmation process, according to Toll Road News, because Macquarie is one of the principal investors in the controversial Indiana Toll Road lease and others. The confirmation schedule has not yet been announced.

In June 2006, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, himself a former Bush advisor, signed over control of the 157-mile Indiana Toll Road to Macquarie of Australia and Cintra of Spain for 75 years. That transaction netted a one-time payment of $3.85 billion for state highways. Critics say the transaction will leave the state strapped for highway cash in a few short years while the private investors profit from the tolls.

Gribbin said in an e-mail correspondence with Toll Road News that he credits Peters' recent appointment to DOT secretary as a factor in his nomination. He also gave props to Macquarie for being a leader in the U.S. public-private partnership market for infrastructure.

When Peters moved into her new role as transportation secretary, Gribbin left the FHWA to do volunteer work in Costa Rica. He has a law degree from Georgetown University.

Early in his career, according to a DOT press release, Gribbin was director of public sector business development with Koch Industries.

Macquarie's U.S. ventures, subsidiaries of Macquarie Bank of Sydney, Australia, have 100 percent interest and control in the South Bay Expressway in San Diego; 100 percent in the Dulles Greenway toll road in Virginia near Washington, DC; 50 percent in the Indiana Toll Road; 45 percent in the Chicago Skyway in Illinois; and 30 percent in the 407 Express Toll Route in Ontario, Canada.