WASHINGTON — The co-chairman of Northwest Airlines gave $100,000 to the Republican Party at a time when the Bush Administration was moving toward approval of two rulings that helped the ailing airline.
Gary L. Wilson gave $80,000 and $20,000 to separate GOP accounts on Aug. 18, according to the Federal Election Commission.
The Administration in September gave final approval to an open-skies agreement with the Netherlands. It allows KLM Royal Dutch Airlines--which owns 49% of Northwest's parent company--to fly to any American market it chooses. Two months later, the Transportation Department gave preliminary approval to the antitrust immunity Northwest and KLM needed to merge services.
Elliott Seiden, Northwest's vice president for law and governmental affairs, said Saturday that "there's no possibility of a connection" between Wilson's contribution and approval of the Northwest-KLM deal.
He noted that a tentative open-skies agreement had been reached--after years of negotiations--several months prior to the contribution.
"It just defies any sense of credulity to suppose that any contribution made in August had anything to do with putting these policies in place," Seiden said in a telephone interview.