Today Business Week published an article "Cruise Trade Group Spends $400K on 4Q Lobbying" which is re-printed, unedited, as follows:
"Cruise Lines International Association spent almost $400,000 in the fourth quarter to lobby on security and environmental issues along with other matters, according to a recent disclosure report.
The trade group that represents cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean and Carnival also lobbied the federal government on legislation related to seaport inspections, customs matters, sanitation and health laws, quarantine procedures, international health requirements and crime reporting.
In the October-through-December period, the trade group, based in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., lobbied both chambers of Congress, along with the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, Customs and Border Patrol, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Justice, the Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Transportation Security Agency and the Environmental Protection Agency, according to a disclosure report filed in January with the House clerk’s office."
The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) is the organization which promotes the interests of the cruise industry and lobbies Congress and federal agencies to avoid as much Federal regulation as possible.
The $400,000 from CLIA is in addition to the millions of dollars spent in lobbying by the individual cruise lines. For example cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein reports that Royal Caribbean alone spent over $3,000,000 for lobbyists for the last three years.
The lawyers here at Cruise Law have attended five Congressional hearings where CLIA fought against safety laws and resisted reporting cruise crimes to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the U.S. Coast Guard.
CLIA has a strange group of bedfellows:
CLIA’s Vice President of Communications is Eric Ruff (photograph above, far left with glasses) who was Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s spokesperson who helped sell the U.S. on the war against Iraq. He is now responsible for CLIA’s "public policy." Mr. Ruff is using his experience gained at the Department of Defense to fight the war against cruise crime regulations and environmental restrictions which may require the cruise industry to spend some of its tax free money to protect passengers and public waters.
CLIA’s President is Terry Dale (photograph left) who had the unenviable job of appearing before Congress and testifying against cruise line rape victims. His half-hearted and ultimately losing argument, that cruising is safe and there is no need to report crimes, failed to convince Congress and further tarnished the cruise line’s already battered and dubious public image.
Another Vice President is Michael Crye (photograph below right). As down to earth as a Brooks-Brothers-suit-with-extra-starch, Mr. Crye’s title involves "technical and regulatory affairs," but he routinely shows up at Congressional cruise crime hearings to belittle crime victims. He is most infamous for accusing missing Royal Caribbean passenger George Smith of being responsible for his own "disappearance" during his 2005 honeymoon cruise.
There is a lot at stake for the cruise industry. The CLIA cruise lines, like Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean, collect around $35,000,000,000 (billion) a year from mostly U.S. tax-paying citizens yet the cruise lines pay no U.S. taxes. Because of Congressional loopholes, U.S. based cruise companies – which register their businesses and flag their cruise ships in foreign countries – can avoid all U.S. taxes and safety and labor laws.
CLIA and the cruise lines are spending millions a year to make certain that Congress doesn’t touch their tax free status and they can continue to skirt U.S. laws.
In contrast to the cruise industry’s multi-million dollar lobbying machine full of Washington insiders – Americans across the U.S. volunteering for the non-profit, grass roots organization International Cruise Victims (ICV) have traveled to Washington D.C. to keep the cruise industry accountable for crimes on cruise ships. To see what an unfunded but dedicated group of victims can accomplish, consider reading:
The photograph (left) shows Ron and Sue DiPiero of Ohio, who lost their son Daniel on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, outside their Congressman’s office in Washington D.C.
The DiPieros are fighting for a reform of the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) which provides no recovery for the emotional injuries sustained by grieving families who have lost a loved one on a cruise ship in international waters.
The cruise industry has spent millions of dollars to make certain that families like the DiPieros are deprived of their rights:
For additional information regarding cruise industry lobbying, please read:
Eric Ruff AP via politico.com
Terry Dale cruiselaw’s Flickr photostream
Michael Crye seatrade-global.com