Three Democrats in the House are asking inspector general Calvin Scovel to investigate whether Department of Transportation political appointees violated federal lobbying laws by advocating for privatization of the U.S. air traffic control network.

In a letter dated Aug. 3, Peter DeFazio (D.-Ore.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and David Price (D-N.C.) accuse at least four political appointees of contacting members of Congress, aviation associations and airports to lobby for the privatization plan, which is contained in the House's 2018 FAA reauthorization bill. Contacts were made via phone and email, they say.

Such actions could violate the Anti-Lobbying Act, which prohibits the use of federal dollars for the purpose of influencing members of Congress.

The letter doesn't identify the four DOT appointees.

President Trump has thrown his support behind the privatization proposal, which would transfer management of air traffic control from the FAA to a nonprofit corporation overseen a by an appointed board.

The Democrats also more broadly accuse the DOT of inappropriate lobbying activity in relation to air traffic control reform, including establishing the website SmartSkies.gov and posting on Facebook and Twitter "with the unambiguous intent of encouraging members of the public to support ATC privatization legislation."

"Even when viewed in the light most favorable, these e-mails, phone calls and other activities are highly irregular at best," the letter says.

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