Senate panel questions Macquarie official who is up for DOT job

| 4/2/2007

David James Gribbin IV – President Bush’s choice for general counsel for the U.S. Department of Transportation – faced a Senate Commerce Committee nomination hearing Thursday, March 29.

Gribbin currently works in the private sector as division director for Macquarie Holdings, a Washington, DC-based company under the umbrella of the toll-road investor Macquarie Infrastructure Group of Australia.

Previously, Gribbin was chief counsel for the Federal Highway Administration. Current Transportation Secretary Mary Peters also worked at FHWA at that time.

The Macquarie firm is one of the principal investors in the Indiana Toll Road lease and other U.S. infrastructure that is being privatized for cash payments from investors.

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. The lease brought in $3.85 billion for state highway projects, but critics say the transaction will leave the state strapped for highway cash in the future.

Macquarie’s U.S. ventures, all of them 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.