The Corner

Economy & Business

The Revolving Door between Ex-Im Bank and Its Biggest Client, Boeing, Is Alive And Well

Last week, Tim Carney at the Washington Examiner broke the story that a top Obama appointee at the Ex-Im Bank, known to its critics as “Boeing’s Bank,” has found a new job — at Boeing. As Corner readers probably know, Boeing is by far the largest domestic beneficiary of the Ex-Im Bank, with 40 percent of the agency’s activities benefiting the company last year.

Carney writes:

Kevin Varney, chief of staff at the Export-Import Bank for Obama’s first term, joined Boeing as a director this month, according to his LinkedIn page….

Varney left Ex-Im in 2013 and joined a consultancy called 32 Advisors, founded by banker and Obama golfing buddy Robert Wolf. RedState has a story on the many revolving door connections between 32 Advisors and Ex-Im, but the new detail is that Varney has jumped to Boeing.

Here is Varney’s job description on his LinkedIn page:

“Kevin Varney leads the International Operations team on Boeing Commercial Airplane issues, including international aviation policy and program issues, international aviation finance and sanctions issues, and U.S. government advocacy for BCA sales. In coordination with Legislative Affairs, Kevin also provides Executive Branch notifications of Boeing’s international defense sales.”

And here is how his page describes his work at Ex-Im:

“Principal political, economic and communications adviser to the Chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. Oversaw increase in export credit financing from $14 bn in 2008 to over $35 bn in 2012. Led successful congressional re-authorization of Ex-Im in 2012.”

Lachlan Markay had an excellent story about the firm that currently employs Varney, 32 Advisors, over at the Free Beacon last week, exposing the political connections, the revolving doors, and the immense amount of cash that can be made just by knowing the right people in Washington. Which brings us back to Varney. I’m sure his Ex-Im connections will be be handy over at Boeing when it’s time for Ex-Im’s biggest client to try to sway the agency in its interests.

If that were to happen, it wouldn’t be the first time it did — remember when e-mails between Ex-Im and Boeing were made public showing that the company was involved in drafting new bank rules that “would be more palatable to Boeing”? (The new rules were supposed to be a response to complaints from the bank’s critics that its activities don’t take into account how they can harm unsubsidized firms and workers.)

Oh, and did I forget to mention that said rules were one of the supposed reforms included in Ex-Im’s 2012 reauthorization? I doubt this is what Congress had in mind when it was trying to reform the troubled agency. This is regulatory capture at its worst, and it’s not going to be “reformed” away.

Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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