Former McCain operative nominated to STB

December 21, 2010

WASHINGTON — A former John McCain operative has been nominated by President Obama to fill a Republican seat on the Surface Transportation Board.

The nomination requires Senate confirmation.

It is not clear whether there is sufficient time for the lame-duck Congress to act on the nomination. If not, the nomination is likely to be remade after the new Congress convenes in January.

The nominee is Ann D. Begeman, currently Republican staff director for the Senate  Commerce Committee, whose ranking Republican is Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas).

Begeman previously was McCain’s legislative director (2004-2009), and served as a McCain spokesperson during McCain’s unsuccessful run for the White House against Obama.

Earlier, she was a Senate Commerce Committee staffer and also a legislative aide to Sen. Larry Pressler (R-S.D.), who made an unsuccessful run in 1980 for the White House.

Begeman earned a degree in business from the University of South Dakota.

If confirmed, she would succeed Republican Chip Nottingham, whose STB term expires Dec. 31. Under provisions of the Interstate Commerce Act, Nottingham may continue serving until a successor is confirmed, or not later than Dec. 31, 2011. Nottingham’s successor would serve through Dec. 31, 2015.

The three-person STB has regulatory authority over railroad mergers and labor protection for rail employees adversely affected by mergers, line sales and leases, and line abandonments. The agency also regulates railroad freight rates.

The other two STB members are Chairman Dan Elliott and Frank Mulvey — both Democrats.